A Gower mum of four is preparing to battle some of the country’s top dental experts and the Government over proposals to put fluoride into water supplies. Beverly Cooke claims the plan is enforced medication of the population.
Her eldest daughter, Alysia, was diagnosed as suffering from fluorosis three years’ ago when she was 11. It means she has an extremely adverse reaction to fluoride.
Initially it was a complete mystery to doctors, said Mrs Cooke.
From being a healthy, active girl, Alysia suddenly developed pains in her legs and the problem began to spread to other parts of the body.
Soon she was on crutches and medical experts believed initially it was caused by growing pain syndrome.
They said she would get over it by the time she was 13.
Then, by chance, one of her doctors at Morriston Hospital noticed she had mottled teeth.
Fluorosis was diagnosed and Alysia was told to stay away from anything that contained fluoride.
Slowly she began to recover and today is like any other 13-year-old. But she remains allergic to fluoride.
“If it was added to water supplies she would have to drink only non-fluoridated bottled water,” said Mrs Cooke.
“I would also have to wash her clothes in bottled water.
“I would have to use bottled water to cook food.
“She wouldn’t be able to eat in restaurants and school dinners would be a major problem. She loves swimming but she wouldn’t be able to go into any pool.” Even now Alysia has to check the contents of everything she eats or drinks to ensure it does not contain fluoride.
Mrs Cooke, of Pencae fenni Park in Crofty, accepts that fluoride can help reduce dental decay.
But she says this is outweighed by the chemical’s many harmful effects.
In areas where it has been introduced in water supplies there have been increases in the number of cases of fluorosis.
Mrs Cooke has carried out a great deal of research into fluoride and is now lobbying AMs and councillors to get her message across.
“Fluoride is not the answer to reducing tooth decay in children,” said Mrs Cooke. “What is needed are education campaigns to persuade parents that their children should have a healthy diet and stay away from sugary products. This is the message that should be put across.” But she is up against some powerful backers of fluoride.
Earlier this month the Government announced it planned to remove a loophole that presently gives water companies the power to refuse to add fluoride to water supplies.
Welsh Water has consistently said it would not add fluoride to water supplies but in future health groups would be able to make the decision and there is general support among them for fluoridating water supplies.
They are backed by dental experts and Assembly health minister Jane Hutt has also come out in favour of fluoride.
They say adding fluoride to water supplies could cut child tooth decay by half.
But Mrs Cooke is not daunted: “Fluoride is a harmful chemical and I’m doing all I can to get people who make decisions on my side.
“I’m seeing AMs, MPs and councillors, I’ll lobby anyone who matters.
“I’ll start a petition which I’m sure will show there is a huge amount of opposition to fluoride among the general public.
“There are a number of environmental and pressure groups with the same views that will back the campaign.”