Fluoride Action Network

Fluoride’s Effect on the Newborn and Infant Brain

September 10th, 2019

Mother-Offspring Studies of Newborns and Infants

The studies below are both from China and both compare the infants of mothers living in high fluoride areas (fluorosis endemic areas) to mothers living outside of this category. They were published in 2004 and 2017. Both studies tested for variations of neurobehavioral development and both studies reported significantly lower responses from the children whose mothers live in the high-fluoride areas.

 Newborn – Infant Study #1: (Li 2004)

Citation: Li J, Yao L, Shao QL, Wu CY. (2004). Effects of high fluoride level on neonatal neurobehavioral development. Published in Chinese in the Journal of Endemiology in 2004; 23(5):463-5. Translated and republished in 2008 in Fluoride 41(2): 165-170.
Location of Study: CHINA: Zhaozhou County, Heilongjiang Province.
Size of Study: Ninety-one full-term, normal neonates; 46 were male and 45 female. The mothers and the neonates were divided into a high fluoride group and a normal control group based on the fluoride level in the drinking water of the place of residence.
Age of Subjects: Neonates: 1 to 3 days (24–72 hr) after delivery
Source of Fluoride: Drinking water
Water Fluoride Level: 1.7–6.0 mg/L in high fluoride areas; 0.5–1.0 mg/L in control areas.
Urine Levels A urine sample was collected after the pregnant women were hospitalized but before labor began. In the high fluoride group the urinary fluoride level averaged 3.58 ± 1.47 mg/L, significantly higher than the normal range of 0.18–2.6 mg/L and was significantly different from the fluoride level in urine samples from the control group. When compared with the fluoride result in urine samples from the control group (1.74±0.96 mg/L), the difference is statistically very significant (p<0.01).
Type of IQ Test: The standard neonatal behavioral neurological assessment (NBNA) method was used for measurements, which were carried out by professionals (pediatric department physicians working in neonatal section trained in national NBNA training program and who passed the training by exams.). Twenty items were included in the examination, such as neonatal behavioral capability, passive muscle tension, agonistic muscle tension, primary reflection, and general reactions. For each examined item, there are three rankings (0, 1, and 2): 0 for failure to elicit reactions or obvious abnormality, 1 for mild abnormality, and 2 for perfect normal reactions.

The results of this study show that the urinary fluoride levels of expectant mothers in high fluoride areas are significantly increased, suggesting that in these areas there are higher accumulations of fluoride in the bodies of these mothers.

Table 2 indicates that the development of agonistic muscle tension was impaired in the high fluoride group. Agonistic muscle tension is an indicator of the development of locomotive functions. Abnormality can occur if the brain is damaged or the development of the central nerve system is premature. Neurobehavioral capacity and agonistic muscle tension are closely related to long-term neuron-locomotive development. That is why there exist data that indicate decreased intelligence levels for grade school students in high fluoride areas.5

Table 3 shows that the various neurobehavioral capabilities, such as non-biological visual, biological visual, and auditory directional reactions of the neonates from the high fluoride group lagged behind those of the control group with differences that are statistically significant (p<0.05).

Conclusions: The present observations indicate that fluoride, as a toxic material to nerve development, can have an adverse impact on the neurobehavioral development of neonates and can cause abnormal changes of neurobehavioral capability during the neonate period with a negative impact on the future development of both the body and intelligence of the neonate. Therefore, in endemic fluoride areas, great effort should be made to reduce fluoride level in the water… Special attention should be paid to the health and protection of pregnant women.

 Newborn – Infant Study #2: (Chang-2017)

Citation: Chang A, Shi Y, Sun H, Zhang L. (2017).  Analysis on the Effect of Coal-Burning Fluorosis on the Physical Development and Intelligence Development of Newborns Delivered by Pregnant Women with Coal-Burning Fluorosis. Chinese Journal of Control of Endemic Diseases 32(8):872-873.
Location of Study: CHINA: mothers in coal-burning fluorosis areas compared to control
Size of Study: 118 newborns
Age of Subjects:

68 newborns to 12 months of age.

68 newborns were delivered by pregnant women from coal-burning endemic fluorosis areas and 50 full-term newborns delivered by normal healthy pregnant women selected as a control group.

Source of Fluoride: Coal-burning fluorosis areas
Water Fluoride Level: NA
Type of IQ Test: Mental development index (MDI) and psychomotor development index (PDI) (assessed using the Standardized Scale for the Intelligence Development of Children formulated by the Children Development Center of China [CDCC])

The body weight, body length, head circumference, chest circumference, upper arm circumference and top arm length of newborns in the observation group were all significantly lower than those in the control group, and their differences were statistically significant (P < 0.05). At 3, 6, 9 and 12 months after birth, the grades of body weight development and body-length development of infants in the control group were significantly higher than those in the observation group (P < 0.05); both the MDI and the PDI of infants in the observation group were significantly lower than those in the control group (P < 0.05).

The present study paid special attention on the stay of mother during pregnancy, source of drinking water since conception, the socioeconomic status of all the three villages which were same in both endemic and control areas.

Conclusions: Comparison of the mental development index (MDI) and psychomotor development index (PDI) (assessed using the Standardized Scale for the Intelligence Development of Children formulated by the Children Development Center of China [CDCC]) of newborns in the two groups at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months after birth showed that both the MDI and the PDI in the observation group were significantly lower than those in the control group (P< 0.05), which suggests that maternal fluorosis have a significant impact on the intelligence development of newborns.


See also

Fluoride’s Effect on Fetal Brain

The Mother-Offspring IQ studies

61 Human IQ Studies that report an association with fluoride exposure and a lowering of IQ in children

Fluoride’s effects on animal learning and memory

Fluoride’s direct effects on animal brain