Fluoride Action Network



  • Mexican guidelines recommended a dietary reference intake for fluoride of 2.45 mg/d for adult and pregnant women.
  • Mexico has a salt fluoridation program.
  • High fluoride concentrations are neurotoxic.
  • Median fluoride intake through foods and beverages was estimated to be 1.01 mg/d (0.73, 1.32) in a Mexican pregnancy cohort (subsample of PROGRESS cohort).
  • Higher fluoride intake from foods and beverages during pregnancy is associated with lower cognitive neurodevelopment in male offspring.

Foods and beverages provide a source of fluoride exposure in Mexico. While high fluoride concentrations are neurotoxic, recent research suggests that exposures within the optimal range may also pose a risk to the developing brain. This prospective study examined whether dietary fluoride intake during pregnancy is associated with toddlers’ neurodevelopment in 103 mother-child pairs from the PROGRESS cohort in Mexico City. Food and beverage fluoride intake was assessed in trimesters 2 and 3 using a food frequency questionnaire and Mexican tables of fluoride content. We used the Bayley-III to evaluate cognitive, motor, and language outcomes at 12 and 24 months of age. Adjusted linear regression models were generated for each neurodevelopment assessment time point (12 and 24 months). Mixed-effects models were used to consider a repeated measurement approach. Interactions between maternal fluoride intake and child sex on neurodevelopmental outcomes were tested. Median (IQR) dietary fluoride intake during pregnancy was 1.01 mg/d (0.73, 1.32). Maternal fluoride intake was not associated with cognitive, language, or motor outcomes collapsing across boys and girls. However, child sex modified the association between maternal fluoride intake and cognitive outcome (p interaction term = 0.06). A 0.5 mg/day increase in overall dietary fluoride intake was associated with a 3.50-point lower cognitive outcome in 24-month old boys (95% CI: -6.58, -0.42); there was no statistical association with girls (B = 0.07, 95% CI: -2.37, 2.51), nor on the cognitive outcome at 12-months of age. Averaging across the 12- and 24-month cognitive outcomes using mixed-effects models revealed a similar association: a 0.5 mg/day increase in overall dietary fluoride intake was associated with a 3.46-point lower cognitive outcome in boys (95% CI: -6.23, -0.70). These findings suggest that the development of nonverbal abilities in males may be more vulnerable to prenatal fluoride exposure than language or motor abilities, even at levels within the recommended intake range.

*Original abstract online at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0161813X21001005