Despite almost 50 years of water fluoridation in Australia, children as young as one are having general anaesthetics to remove teeth riddled with decay. Our nation is on the brink of a dental crisis due to our love affair with refined carbohydrates and sugars. An increasing number of studies are linking fluoride consumption with toxic side effects, especially amongst children. In some parts of Australia, there is little or no difference in tooth decay between children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas.1 So why are we putting our children at risk?
One of the most common arguments from the Australian Dental Association is ‘fluoridation: nature thought of it first’.2 The fluoride found naturally occurring in water is calcium fluoride. The chemical used in artificial water fluoridation, however, is sodium fluoride: a by-product of the phosphate fertiliser industry that is also used in insecticides and disinfectants. Sodium fluoride is more easily absorbed by the body than calcium fluoride and greatly increases the risk of side effects.
In their brochure ‘Water Fluoridation Questions and Answers’ Queensland Health admits that the fluoride we drink is collected from the pollution scrubbers of manufacturing industries,3 yet this same organisation is now pushing for Queensland to be 90 per cent fluoridated by 2012.
In 2006, the National Research Council of America (NRC) published a scientific review of fluoride in drinking water and discovered that ‘infants and children are at a three to four times higher risk of over-exposure to fluoride than adults because of their smaller body size’.4
Fluoridated water isn’t the only concern. Beverages such as soft drinks, juice, and sports drinks may contain much higher levels of fluoride if they are processed in a fluoridated area. If swallowed, toothpaste can greatly increase fluoride intake.
The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) found that infants fed on formula topped up with fluoridated water exceeded the recommended daily intake of fluoride. And it’s not just infants in fluoridated areas that are at risk. Infants in a low or non-fluoridated area that are fed with a highly fluoridated formula may have increased fluoride intakes.5
Despite Australia having a high rate of breastfeeding mothers, a large number of infants still consume formula. A 1993 Child Fluoride Study discovered the two brands of formula used mostly in Australia had higher fluoride contents than the average.6 With an increase in allergies and sensitivities amongst children, more mothers are turning to soy milk formula. Unfortunately this often has a higher fluoride content than formula made from cow’s milk.
Some of the more serious side effects from over-exposure to fluoride are listed below.
Dental fluorosis results in a brown, mottled stain on the surface of teeth and is caused by an excessive intake of fluoride during the formation of the teeth. It can lead to corrosion of the tooth enamel.
Children six months to twelve years of age are most at risk of developing dental fluorosis. This is when remineralisation of the tooth enamel occurs most rapidly and an abundance of fluoride can disrupt the process. Dental fluorosis affects only children, but can lead to skeletal fluorosis (a crippling bone disease) in later life.
A Chinese study conducted by the Tianjin Medical University in 2000 compared the IQ of children aged 10–12 years in two villages with different levels of fluoride in their drinking water. Surprisingly, they found the IQ of the children in the high-fluoride area was significantly lower than the IQ of the children in the low-fluoride area, concluding exposure of children to high levels of fluoride may therefore carry the risk of impaired development of IQ.7
Hardy Limeback, a member of the 2006 National Research Council panel on Fluoride Toxicity agrees. ‘Newborn babies have undeveloped brains and exposure to fluoride, a suspected neurotoxin, should be avoided.8
Elise Bassin, DDS, conducted a 2001 Harvard doctoral research thesis linking fluoride with bone cancer which was finally published in 2006 after being suppressed for five years.9 The study found a strong link between fluoridated drinking water and osteosarcoma, a rare and often-fatal bone cancer, in boys.10 This study confirms previous studies by the New Jersey Health Department and Dr Perry Cohn who both found higher rates of osteosarcoma among boys in fluoridated areas than those in non-fluoridated areas.
The amount of fluoride an infant absorbs through breastfeeding is quite minimal due to a protective mechanism within the breast, proving fluoride is not an essential vitamin or mineral. As Kindred readers well know, the health benefits of breastfeeding are many. It is the safest, most natural form of nutrition for a growing child and minimally should be undertaken for at least the first six to twelve months of a child’s life.
If breastfeeding is not possible, a low-fluoride infant formula, reconstituted with non-fluoridated water is the next best option. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends parents use rainwater or bottled water for children up to six years of age to limit or prevent dental fluorosis.11
Bottled water in Australia is currently fluoride-free but a recent application by the Australian Beverages Council to add fluoride to these products may soon change this.11 The only way to remove fluoride from water is with a costly reverse osmosis filter, available at health food stores.
Every Australian capital city except Brisbane is currently fluoridated and formulas manufactured in these areas will most likely contain high levels of fluoride. The Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Code (2.9.1) has issued new labelling regulations for formulas with high fluoride levels to indicate that consumption of these types of formula may cause dental fluorosis.13 Golden Circle products, manufactured in Queensland, do not contain fluoride.
When children are old enough to use toothpaste, select a low or non-fluoridated paste and monitor their brushing habits to ensure they do not swallow any of the toothpaste. Fluoride tablets should be avoided at all costs.
Feeding children a healthy diet rich in natural grains, fruits and vegetables, and low in sugar, plus encouraging regular brushing, will set them up with excellent dental health for life.
Published in Kindred, Issue 25, March 08
See also, published in the same issue, US Health Professionals make Dramatic call to end Flouridation plus Queensland Forced to Bite the Flouride Bullet
1. Akers, Harry F., Porter, Suzette A.T. & Wear, Rae, ‘Water Fluoridation in Queensland, Why Not? Timing, Circumstance, and the Nature of The Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act,’ History Cooperative, (1963) 2.
2. Australian Dental Association, ‘Fluoride: Nature Thought of it First,’ www.ada.org.au, (2003).
3. Queensland Health, ‘Water Fluoridation Questions and Answers,’ Queensland Government, (2005) 6.
4. National Research Council, ‘Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards’ (2006) 3.
5. ‘Review of Water Fluoridation and Fluoride Intake from Discretionary Fluoride Supplements,’ Review for NHMRC, Melbourne (1999) 6, 10, 41, 151, 157.
6. Davies M.J., ‘The Child Fluoride Study: Pattern of Fluoride Exposure.’ Presented at the Consensus Conference on Appropriate Fluoride Exposure for Infants and Children, Perth 2–3 December, (1993). Unpublished.
7. The Department of Environmental Health, ‘Effect of High-Fluoride Water on Intelligence in Children,’ Tianjin Medical University, China (2000).
8. Limeback, Hardy, ‘New Fluoride Warning for Infants,’ Mothering Magazine, www.mothering.com, November (2006).
9. Gupta, Chris, ‘Fluoride-Cancer Study Cover Up’ www.newmediaexplorer.org/chris/2005/08/17/fluoridecancer_study_cover_up.htm
10. Bassin, Dr. E., Wypij, D., Davis, R.B., Mittleman, M.A, ‘Age-specific Fluoride Exposure in Drinking Water and Osteosarcoma,’ Cancer Causes Control 17 (2006) 421-428.
11. National Water Quality Management Strategy, ‘Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 6,’ National Health and Medical Research Council (2004) 382.
12. ‘Move to Put Fluoride in Bottled Water Delayed,’ Courier Mail, 5 May 2007, 7.
13. Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Standard 2.9.1, Infant Formula Products, Issue 60, 9.
For further information, please visit:
• International Fluoride Action Network
• Australian Fluoridation News
• Fluoride Free Australia Network
• Queenslanders Against Water Fluoridation
• Central Coast Pure Water Association
• Fluoridation is Not Democratic (Coffs Harbour)
• Hastings Safe Water Association
• Gippsland Safe Water Alliance
• Water Quality Australia (Melbourne)
• Fluoride Education Awareness (Wodonga)