Does ingesting and exposure to fluoride lower one’s intelligence quotient (IQ)? A new study published by Harvard University and funded by the National Institutes of Health concluded that children living in areas where the drinking water with a high fluoride content have significantly lower IQ scores when compared to children who live in areas with fluoride free water.
To summarize the 32-page report:
- A systematic review of 27 published studies regarding fluoride in drinking water spanning 22 years was done. The studies reviewed were those carried out in rural China.
- The study also took into account hundreds of animal studies involving fluoridated water and reported that animals given water with a fluoride concentration of 1 ppm (one parts per million) showed increased levels of aluminum in the brain tissue and other morphological alterations.
- The researchers concluded the report saying their results support “there is the possibility of adverse effects of fluoride exposure on children’s neurodevelopment.”
The scientific and medical community remains divided on the issue of fluoride being added to drinking water.
After the Harvard study was published several other scientific and medical institutions called the study flawed. According to them the results were not applicable to most countries since the study subjects were children in rural China were the water is known to be naturally high in fluoride. The also noted that even the study authors admitted they could not determine the exact amount of fluoride the children were exposed to and that factors other than fluoride could effect the IQ of those children such as diet and/or other environmental toxins.
The American Dental Association maintains that fluoride does not have an adverse effect on the IQ of adults or children and says it is a critical public service that drastically reduced tooth decay, especially in children.
Related: Brain Injuries in Pre-Term Infants
Those who hailed the study’s conclusions that fluoride is a dangerous neurotoxin and can lead to other health problems besides a diminished IQ point out the decades of research that already supported the Harvard study’s findings, such as:
- The Journal of the American Medical Association stated in 1943 that fluorides are a kind of poison that changes the permeability of the cell membrane by certain enzymes (making the membrane less effective at keeping bad elements out of the cell).
- Even the Food and Drug Administration (ADA) recommends against children under the age of six months being exposed to fluoride and classified the substance as a drug, not a mineral nutrient. Even so, fluoride is still recommended in drinking water despite never having been approved as a drug for widespread use by the FDA.
Fluoride Children & IQ
Even the Center for Disease Control has not provided a clear position on the effects of fluoride water and children’s IQs. On one hand the CDC calls the fluoridation of water one of the top public health initiatives of the 20th century but cautions parents against mixing infant formula with fluoridated water because of the possible negative health issues; and fluorosis, a condition that stains and pockmarks teeth.
The United States is one of only eight countries that still adds fluoride to water supplies. Most of the rest of the developed world has terminated the practice due to insufficient evidence that the potential for less tooth decay outweighs the risk fluoride poses to the development of children’s brains and teeth. Since fluoride is only helpful in preventing tooth decay topically, there is no good reason for it to be ingested.