The findings of new research may make you want to switch to fluoride-free toothpaste while pregnant. Read on to find out why…
A study of over 200 pregnant women and their children found that higher levels of urinary fluoride during pregnancy are associated with more ADHD-like symptoms in school-age children.
“Our findings are consistent with a growing body of evidence suggesting that the growing foetal nervous system may be negatively affected by higher levels of fluoride exposure,” said Dr Morteza Bashash, the study’s lead author and researcher at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Canada.
Researchers analysed data from 213 mother-child pairs in Mexico City that were part of the Early Life Exposures in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) project, which recruited pregnant women from 1994 to 2005 and has continued to follow the women and their children ever since.
Where is fluoride hiding?
Tap water and dental products have been fluoridated in communities in Canada and the United States (as well as milk and table salt in some other countries) by varying amounts for more than 60 years to prevent cavities.
The big debate about fluoride
In recent years, a fierce debate over the safety of water fluoridation – particularly for children’s developing brains – has fuelled researchers to explore the issue and provide evidence to inform national drinking water standards.
Fluoride linked to ADHD
The research team – including experts from the University of Toronto, York University, the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico, University of Michigan, Indiana University, the University of Washington and Harvard School of Public Health – analysed urine samples that had been obtained from mothers during pregnancy and from their children between six and 12 years of age.
They analysed how levels of fluoride in urine related to the child’s performance on a variety of tests and questionnaires that measure inattention and hyperactivity and provide overall scores related to ADHD.
“Our findings show that children with elevated prenatal exposure to fluoride were more likely to show symptoms of ADHD as reported by parents. Prenatal fluoride exposure was more strongly associated with inattentive behaviours and cognitive problems, but not with hyperactivity,” said Dr Bashash.
Fluoride linked to lower IQ
This work builds off previous research demonstrating that higher levels of urine fluoride during pregnancy are associated with lower scores on tests of IQ and cognition in the school-age children.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is the most common psychiatric disorder diagnosed in childhood, affecting between five and nine per cent of all school-aged children.
“The symptoms of ADHD often persist into adulthood and can be impairing in daily life,” said Christine Till, Associate Professor of Psychology at York University and co-author on the study.
“If we can understand the reasons behind this association, we can then begin to develop preventative strategies to mitigate the risk,” said Till, who is also the principal investigator of another National Institutes of Health-funded grant examining fluoride exposure in a large Canadian sample of pregnant women.
Source: University of Toronto. Note via www.sciencedaily.com