Any scientist or educator who has followed the science of fluoride’s toxicity – especially its potential to damage the developing brain – must be stunned to hear that the NZ government is set to introduce mandatory water fluoridation into the whole country. Either NZ scientists and educators have not kept up with the science or have been too timid to challenge government policy. Whatever the explanation, they have let down the citizens of this country.
An early indication of this “scientific let-down” came to us in 2018. We were invited by citizens to present our concerns about fluoride’s neurotoxicity to a meeting organized at the University of Otago in 2018. To our dismay, not one faculty member bothered to attend but the front two rows were occupied by students wearing tin -foil hats, which was perhaps more a measure of the prejudice circulating on this subject in the only Dental School in NZ, rather than any serious study.
For those who retain an open mind on this issue let us review the science. Since 1995, human studies (largely from China) have appeared in the Western literature that showed lowered IQ in children exposed to high natural levels of fluoride. While many of these studies used limited methodologies, they were remarkably consistent in their findings. For example, a meta-analysis done by Harvard researchers (Choi et al, 2012) showed that of 27 studies, 26 showed a lowering of IQ despite them being conducted by many different research teams, over a period of 21 years and across widely differing areas of China (and Iran).
In 2014, influential scientific commentators Sir Peter Gluckman and Sir David Skegg dismissed the relevance of this meta-analysis for NZ erroneously claiming that the average loss was less than one IQ point when in fact the loss was actually 7 IQ points! Other than a confusing “correction” of this statement, nothing much has been heard from Gluckman and Skegg since.
Meanwhile, a dramatic change in the quality of these studies occurred in 2017 when the first of three mother-child studies funded by US agencies was published (Bashash, 2017, 2018 and Green, 2019). These very rigorous studies controlled for a large number of confounding variables and used double-blind individual measurements for both mother and child. Analysis of this data has shown a loss of about 4 IQ points in offspring for a range of 1 mg/liter of fluoride in mother’s urine. This range is typical of fluoridated countries, including NZ. The resulting articles have appeared in major peer-reviewed journals like Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) and the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) Pediatrics.
A further Canadian study published in 2020 by Till et al. found that children who were bottle-fed in fluoridated communities had lower IQs (up to 9 IQ points) than children bottle-fed in non-fluoridated communities.
Key authors of these studies, along with Dr. Linda Birnbaum (former head of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) have suggested that both pregnant women and parents who bottle-feed their babies avoid fluoride, including fluoridated water [see Op-ed: It is time to protect kids’ developing brains from fluoride].
Why on earth is NZ not putting an immediate halt to existing fluoridation programs instead of making it mandatory for the whole country? And why are NZ’s scientists and educators leaving it to voluntary organizations like Fluoride Free NZ to issue critical warnings? We urge them to read the op-ed piece above, the key studies which gave rise to it and then speak up to protect the mental development of the next generation. A decayed tooth can be fixed, a damaged brain cannot.
Full citations of all the references cited can be found on the webpage of the Fluoride Action Network, www.FluorideALERT.org
About the authors,
Paul Connett, PhD
is a retired professor of chemistry who specialized in environmental chemistry and toxicology. In 2000, he was one of the founders of the US-based non-profit Fluoride Action Network and its current Executive Director. In 2010, he co-authored the book “The Case Against Fluoride…” (Chelsea Green, 2010)
Vyvyan Howard, MB, ChB, PhD, FRCPath,
Is a retired medical practitioner, pathologist and toxicologist. He specialized in developmental toxicology, the study of the harmful effects of chemicals on the fetus and infant. He is a Past President of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment and is a Fellow of the Collegium Ramazzini.
*Original press release online at https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE2103/S00105/an-open-letter-to-nz-scientists-and-educators.htm