You may have noticed an article circulating online about a recent study published by the Journal Of American Medical Association Pediatrics regarding prenatal fluoride exposure and child IQ. The conclusions of this study did show that there was an association between prenatal fluoride exposure and a lower IQ in those children exposed. Scary and thought provoking right? Well, let’s look at this in a but more detail.
First of all, let me say that I find it very important to stay up to date with the latest research, and I am happy that more research is being done on fluoride. With that said, I think that each research study needs to be analyzed to a certain degree before just drawing conclusions based on what others are saying on social media. And with that, I wanted to offer my analysis on this study as well as my thoughts on the direction of fluoride use in the dental industry.
Does Fluoride Lower IQ? A Look At The Details.
In this particular study, the overall conclusion mentions that there is a “association”, this means that there seems to be a pattern between the two variables. The variables in this situation are the IQ and the exposure of fluoride prenatally. It is important to know that a correlation does not mean cause and effect. Therefore, this study did not conclude that prenatal fluoride exposure causes a lower IQ, there is simply a correlation or others may call this a possibility.
This study is also hard to generalize to a global population for a few reasons. The first is that the size of the study was relatively small, the data collected is based on only 601 mother/child pairs. These individuals also were all located in Canada. While this is not necessarily an issue, it does mean that the results given may not apply to all locations as other geographic areas were not studied.
The conclusions of this study also point out that the results were different when comparing the boys and girls. Again, another reason that this association may not apply globally. More studies would be needed to determine exactly why the prenatal fluoride exposure seemed to have more of an IQ lowering effect on boys than it did on girls.
Is Fluoride Necessary?
Now, I am a mom, and a mom that tries my best to avoid exposing my children to unnecessary chemicals and “procedures”. I am also a pediatric dentist, and as such I have been educated and trained on the benefits of fluoride as it relates to oral care. My stance is, and always has been, that fluoride is a choice. I never want a parent or patient feel as if they are being forced into the use of fluoride yet I also feel it is important to educate parents and patients on what benefits fluoride may contribute to the overall oral health.
This is why, for me, it all comes down to communication between the dentist and parent or patient. This communication should involve both pros/cons of fluoride use as well as take into account the patient’s risk for cavities and overall home care.
I do sincerely hope that this particular study opens the doors to similar types of research on fluoride as I feel that it is truly needed. In my opinion, these studies should never be scolded or shied away from but welcomed as a way to educate our profession of dentists so that we can make sure we are always offering care that is in the best interest of our patients.
Head to the link here to read the full study from the JAMA
Head to the link here to read more on my thoughts of dental office fluoride