Introduction: Besides dental and skeletal fluorosis, excessive fluoride intake can also affect the central nervous system without first causing the physical deformities associated with skeletal fluorosis. With the existence of widespread endemic fluorosis in India, the possible adverse effect of elevated fluoride in drinking water on the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) level of children is a potentially serious public health problem.
Aims and Objectives: This study assessed the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of school going children aged 10-12 years in villages of Mysore district with different fluoride levels.
Materials and Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 405 school children aged 10-12 years were selected from three villages in Mysore district with normal fluoride (1.20 mg F/l), low fluoride (0.40 mg F/l) and high fluoride (2.20 mg F/l) in their water supplies. A pre designed questionnaire was used to collect the required data for the survey which included socio demographic details, oral hygiene practices, diet history, body mass index and dental fluorosis. Intelligence Quotient was assessed using Raven’s colored Progressive Matrices Test.
Results: In bivariate analysis, significant relationships were found between water fluoride levels and Intelligence Quotient of school children (P < 0.05). In the high fluoride village, the proportion of children with IQ below 90, i.e. below average IQ was larger compared to normal and low fluoride village. Age, gender, parent education level and family income had no significant association with IQ.
Conclusion: School children residing in area with higher than normal water fluoride level demonstrated more impaired development of intelligence when compared to school children residing in areas with normal and low water fluoride levels. Thus, children’s intelligence can be affected by high water fluoride levels.