Draw No Firm Conclusions from Prenatal Fluoride Exposure Study
In these polarized times, it is all too easy to rush to defend our biases and to do so fiercely, leaving no room for reasoned discussion. That is one of the points made by Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta, in a recent blog post in The Globe and Mail. The blog comments on over-reaction to a new study published by Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) that reports on data from Mexico showing an association between higher fluoride urine levels among pregnant women and lower cognitive function among their offspring.
The Campaign for Dental Health promotes the safety and benefits of community water fluoridation, drawing on an enormous body of research and decades of experience that demonstrate its effectiveness at reducing dental disease. When new research emerges, it is carefully considered to see if and how it adds to the existing body of evidence.
As Caulfield reminds us, fluoridation has a long and complex research history. And, as first author of the Mexican study, Morteza Bashash, PhD, told Medscape Medical News, “This is a piece of a puzzle. We need to do more work to identify the nature of the effect. And we have a lot of uncertainty in the results.”
“Yes, there is interesting research emerging on the risks and benefits of fluoride. And this should not be dismissed. But one study is just that, one study. For a topic as complex as fluoridation – as with so many topics in the realm of health – it is best to consider the body of available evidence before putting the gloves on and retreating to your corner of the public debate,” says Caulfield.
We couldn’t agree more. We welcome this study as an addition to the research on the effects of fluoride. But to draw firm conclusions would be an egregious disservice to the public and to the due process of scientific inquiry.