New research suggests that fluoride in drinking water may act as a harmful toxin to unborn babies. Fluoride is added to public drinking water in an effort to prevent tooth decay. Tooth decay is a major public health issue worldwide. Fluoride has been shown to prevent cavities in children. It occurs naturally in water or it can be added through a controlled process called fluoridation.
Because fluoride is a known toxin, there are recommended limits that should not be exceeded. Children will be fine drinking fluoridated water that is properly regulated, but what about unborn babies? They much tinier and more vulnerable, and it turns out that fluoride may cause them harm.
A new study conducted by JAMA Pediatrics found a link between increased levels of fluoride exposure during pregnancy and lower IQ in children. The researchers estimated women's fluoride intake throughout pregnancy both by tracking their tap water consumption and measuring fluoride concentration in urine samples.
The study found that for each additional 1 milligram of fluoride per liter of urine, there was a 4.5 point IQ drop in male children. They did not find such a significant decrease in females.
This is not the first study done on the impacts of fluorinated water on fetal development. However, this research stands out because it looks at mothers who consumed no more than the recommended concentration of fluoride in water.
They study did not look further into why females were not affected as significantly as males. The researchers did note that boys are diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders like autism or attention deficit disorder more frequently than females. They believe that more research is needed and that there is a possible link between fluoride and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Water fluoridation was named one of the ten greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century by the Center for Disease Control. However, it does make sense that the recommended limits might be too much for a fetus, due to its small size.
READ NEXT: Can I Drink Coffee While Pregnant?