Fluoride Action Network



  • There is growing concern that fluoride may be a neurodevelopmental toxicant.
  • We characterize urine and plasma fluoride levels in 872 pregnant mothers.
  • Fluoride levels through pregnancy were relatively stable.

Background: There is need to assess the developmental neurotoxicity of fluoride. Our knowledge of prenatal fluoride exposure is challenged as few population-based studies have been conducted and these generally date back several decades, provide incomplete data on sociodemographic variables, and have methodological limitations.

Objective: To measure urinary and plasma fluoride levels across three time points in pregnant mothers who were enrolled in the Early Life Exposures in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) birth cohort study.

Methods: Fluoride levels were characterized in archived urine and plasma from 872 pregnant mothers sampled from the ELEMENT cohort. Various statistical methods were used to analyze the fluoride data with particular consideration for changes across three stages of pregnancy and against sociodemographic variables.

Results: All samples had detectable levels of fluoride. The mean urinary and plasma fluoride levels were 0.91 and 0.0221 mg/L respectively, and these were not statistically different across three stages of pregnancy. Fluoride levels correlated across the stages of pregnancy studied, with stronger correlations between neighboring stages. Urinary fluoride changed as pregnancy progressed with levels increasing until ~23 weeks and then decreasing until the end of pregnancy. For plasma fluoride, there was a decreasing trend but this was not of statistical significance. Creatinine-adjusted urinary fluoride levels did not associate consistently with any of the sociodemographic variables studied.

Conclusions” This study provides the most extensive characterization to date of fluoride exposure throughout pregnancy. These results provide the foundation to explore exposure-related health outcomes in the ELEMENT cohort and other studies.