Studies linking ADHD and thyroid conditions to overuse of fluoride in tap water were released this month calling into question the practice of adding fluoride to water or salt to prevent cavities. Because over 66 percent of the American public drinks water that is fluoridated to prevent cavities, health professionals are now calling into question whether this is a good tradeoff. There are three separate studies we will explore linking fluoride to health issues to help you get a better handle on whether you want fluoride in your family’s tap water. You’ve trusted Mamavation to cover topics like what are the safest plastics to use for food packaging, chemicals that can reduce your chances of getting pregnant, and what to do if your private water company is sketchy, now join us as we explore three new studies linking overuse of fluoride in water to ADHD and thyroid conditions.
Three different studies released this month draw attention to the controversy behind fluoride in drinking water. Is this more harmful than useful? The problem with this debate is it ends up pitting one branch of public health interests against the other. Most people are getting fluoride from their water districts and this is done to improve dental health. Good dental health can also protect you from heart attacks. So it’s essentially water interests and dentists vs. independent scientists who focus on endocrine disruption. And who is right? Well, the answers to that are a bit complicated because something incredibly political has just happened. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently come out saying that the way the Feds evaluate chemicals is putting pregnant women and children at risk. With this happening in the background, it calls into question what “safe” actually means to government agencies when they approve chemicals in commerce. Mamavation has covered this topic extensively from the perspective of the independent scientist. Then as more studies are released calling into question safety of chemicals that are already in commerce, the Feds and their process of evaluating chemicals are also being scrutinized. Thus pediatricians have been pitted against government agencies that evaluate chemicals which leaves everyone else scratching their heads about who to believe. So now that the widespread use of adding fluoride to tap water is being called into question, let’s explore three new studies that are having an impact on the debate.
Study Suggesting ADHD is Linked to Fluoride
One study published in Environmental International this year looked at pairs of 213 Mexican mothers and their children and the mother’s urine fluoride levels during pregnancy. They later assessed those same children for attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) symptoms during the ages 6 – 12 years old. After assessing all 213 couples, they found significant results. Mothers with higher levels of fluoride during pregnancy were most likely to have children with ADHD symptoms.
What’s not clear is if fluoride has a direct impact on their behavior OR if it’s indirectly impacting their behavior. What could be happening is fluoride could be creating problems in the thyroid of pregnant women, which is then leading to problems with their babies. Altering levels of dopamine in a child could affect development. But Christine Till, an associate professor, and researcher at York University is primarily concerned with how susceptible to iodine deficiency pregnant mothers are already. Fluoride easily crosses the placenta from mother to the unborn, so it makes sense that impacts of fluoride are being seen. But this is not the first study linking ADHD to fluoride, a previous study linked ADHD to fluoride consumption with U.S. children as well.
Dr. Howard Hu, the co-author of the Mexico study from the University of Washington, said fluoride levels in pregnant women “makes the results of this study from Mexico even more applicable to what might be going on in North America.”
Study Suggesting Thyroid Problems are Linked with Fluoride
Another study is drawing conclusions that small amounts of thyroid-stimulating hormones matter. When Malin and her colleagues analyzed the urine results of over 7 million Canadians for the Canadian Health Measure study, they noticed that iodine deficiency and thyroid gland activity were impacted with a rise in levels of fluoride. Specifically, they were noticing that the more fluoride you had in your body, the more likely you had elevated levels of specific hormones telling the story that the thyroid gland was being suppressed. This is a condition commonly referred to as hypothyroidism, which can cause a host of problems like disrupted heart rates, altered metabolism, and fatigue.
An iodine deficiency can also prove to be incredibly problematic to health. Because iodine helps to flush fluoride from the body, having a deficiency means that more fluoride would stay inside the body and interfere with certain enzymes important for thyroid function. In the study, they also noticed that iodine deficient Canadians seemed more sensitive to fluoride impacts. Malin also pointed to 18% of the nearly 7 million people studied were iodine deficient “We’re talking about potentially more than a million people at risk of an underactive thyroid due to fluoride exposure.”
Study Suggesting We Get Most of Our Floride Exposure From Water
Another study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that when 1,566 pregnant women in Canada were followed and studied to see where they were receiving the vast majority of fluoride exposure, it was coming from the water. In fact, it was found that fluoride urine levels in women drinking fluorinated water were two times higher than women not drinking fluoridated water. And that’s a bit problematic because it’s estimated that 66 percent of people in the United States are drinking fluoridated water. What are all the fluoride exposures? About 80 percent of fluoride comes from water and other beverages such as tea. Then other exposures are things like grapes, shellfish and toothpaste.
But Isn’t Fluoride Safe? Should Water Districts Add it to Tap Water?
One thing that isn’t surprising to Mamavation is how chemicals get into commerce before they are proven to be safe for pregnant women and children. In fact, branches of the Feds like the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) are under scrutiny right now by the American Academy of Pediatrics for not considering the principles of endocrine disruption when evaluating the safety of chemicals and thus putting pregnant women and children at risk. Could it be possible that fluoride use falls into this category?
Well, previous studies have linked fluoride to things like a reduction in thyroid hormones, elevated thyroid stimulating hormones and increased likelihood of hypothyroidism and diabetes in adults. A meta-analysis study done by Harvard suggests that children in China exposed to higher levels of fluoride tested lower on IQ scores in 26 out of 27 studies done and the average IQ drop was about 7 points. And in the Lancet, epidemiological studies documented 6 additional developmental neurotoxicants, including fluoride and infamous chlorpyrifos pesticide chemical used on crops.
However, it’s important to also note that fluoride has brought with it some major health benefits as well. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), drinking fluoridated water reduces tooth decay in about 25 percent of children and adults. They refer to use of fluoride to achieve that one of its “Ten Great Public Health Achievements” of the 20th Century. But the evidence that fluoride may have negative health consequences is building and that ends up pitting one branch of public health against another. Arora said, “as a dentist and environmental health scientist, I feel this is an opportune moment in our professions to have an honest discussion” about the impacts of fluoride and public health.
“A question that is becoming increasingly important – is fluoridation of water supplies the best way to deliver the oral health benefits of fluoride?” Arora said. “For me, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this. Socioeconomics, background risk and other aspects of the community have to be considered, but now is the time to have the scientific debate.”
At Mamavation, we highly recommend you filter fluoride out of your water and avoid it in toothpaste. By doing that, not only will you avoid the vast majority of the contamination of fluoride, but you’ll also be filtering out other contaminants as well. And here are some more of our solutions.
- Look into getting a good quality water filtration system, such as Environmental Water Systems. Reverse Osmosis systems are the strongest water filtrations systems on the market, but note you may want to also look into remineralizing your water afterward.
- A less expensive option would be to grab a different filtration system that removes fluoride, chlorine, lead, chromium 6, tastes and odors, heavy metals and 99.99% of other contaminants. But the essential minerals are left behind so you won’t need to mineralize it afterward.
- Purchase toothpaste for the family that doesn’t have fluoride. Here is our investigation on toothpaste brands.
- Pick up some iodine supplements if you don’t use table salt to protect your thyroid. But please talk to your doctor first. Assuming you have done that these products are for adults: Global Healing Center Nascent Iodine, Now Foods, & Pure Encapsulations
- Perspective: Focusing on other things you can control like protecting your family from dangerous air quality inside and outside your home. Toxic exposure is cumulative, so anything you can do to reduce the overall exposure of your family is important.