Fluoride argument blind to science

To the editor,

A letter in the Telegraph on Nov. 16 from chiropractor Jim Forleo stating that a new research study “found that prenatal exposure to fluoride permanently compromised children’s cognitive function” is very
misleading. After having read the study myself, once again, it became evident how little understanding Forleo has of science, research and its application to the real world. He takes a few ideas from a research article such as this, manipulates them out of context, assumes false conclusions, generalizes to the U.S. population, and then applies these false assumptions to his own conspiratorial world view that fluoride is poisoning our children in Durango.

The research article is called “Prenatal Fluoride Exposure and Cognitive Outcomes in Children at 4 and 6-8 Years of Age in Mexico.” It is a well-done study that looked at fluoride levels in a urine sample from 299 low-to middle-income pregnant women from three hospitals in Mexico City. The fluoride level in each woman’s sample was correlated with IQ tests in their offspring at 4 and 6 years of age. The study aimed to “estimate” if there was an association between prenatal exposure to high levels of fluoride and neurocognitive development in children. Similarly, small Chinese studies of IQs of children living in areas with high fluoride exposure (.88 to 11.0 mg/L fluoride in water) suggested but did not prove that these children consequently had lower IQ scores than children who lived in low exposure or controlled areas (.2 – 1.0 mg/L fluoride in water). China, however, is one of the most polluted countries in the world. In the United States, fluoride in drinking water is controlled at .7 mg/L. In Mexico City, fluoride is added to salt (250 mg/L) but not tracked in water.

This study is valid in its conclusions that there was an association between high levels of prenatal exposure to fluoride and IQ but does not even pretend to establish cause and effect as Forleo would like us to believe. The authors point out that lack of information about the level of iodine in the salt, lack of data on water fluoride content, lack of data on exposure of these children to other neurotoxins, lack of information about these children’s diet, lack of information on how fluoride is retained or excreted from the body and how it is processed in the body during pregnancy – could all effect this association. They state that much more research is needed.

The next time Forleo writes that fluoride in Durango water is poisoning our children and cites research – take it with a grain of salt.

– Sherrod Beall, RN, MS, PNP, Durango