Excessive fluoride consumption affects reproductive and child health. We examined the association between levels of fluoride in drinking water and birth weight, in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2013–2016, after adjusting for known risk factors Low Birth Weight (LBW) including age, smoking, and socio-demographic variables including education, food security, health care access, and health status.
The study included 7147 and 6858 women with complete birth weight and water fluoride data, respectively. Linear regression models evaluated the association between water fluoride and birth weight across racial/ethnic groups. The odds of delivering an LBW infant (<2500 g) compared to an infant weighing > 2500 g, as well as the odds of delivering a Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW, <1500 g) infant compared to an LBW infant were explored in separate logistic regression models.
Women with LBW infants were exposed to significantly higher levels of water fluoride compared to those with normal birth weight infants. Our findings suggest a significant association between excess water fluoride exposure (>0.7 ppm) and LBW weight in Hispanic women, independent of established LBW risk factors. In logistic regression models, Hispanic women exposed to increased levels of water fluoride were 1.5 times more likely to give birth to an LBW infant and 3.5 more likely to give birth to a VLBW infant.
Taken together, these findings can inform public health education strategies that highlight water fluoride as a potential risk factor during pregnancy in Hispanic women. More research is needed to confirm these findings.