Harvard study: evidence shows ‘fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development in children’
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
Despite a history of the criticism of water fluoridation being characterized as “scare mongering via crazy water fluoridation conspiracy theories,” a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and China Medical University in Shenyang, combining 27 other studies, “found strong indications that fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development in children.”
Hilariously, some actually go as far as to claim, “almost all health and dental organizations support the fluoridation of water or have found no association with adverse effects with water fluoridation,” which is clearly untrue.
The study, which was actually a systematic review of other studies, was published on July 20, 2012 in Environmental Health Perspectives and mostly relied on research from China.
The researchers focused on fluoride’s interaction with the developing human brain since public health experts have so far been unable to come to a consensus on the safety of fluoridated drinking water consumption in children.
However, it has been established that “extremely high levels” of fluoride cause neurotoxicity in adults. Furthermore, negative impacts on learning and memory have been found in rodent studies, much like high-fructose corn syrup.
While proponents of water fluoridation regularly like to claim that there is plenty of science backing up the practice, according to Anna Choi, lead author of the study and research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health at HSPH, “Virtually no human studies in this field have been conducted in the U.S.”
Therefore, the researchers relied on Chinese studies since, according to HSPH’s press release, “exposures to the chemical are increased in some parts of China,” and the risks of fluoride have been well documented there.
Yet the researchers had to contend with the fact that some of the studies on children in China differed in various ways or were incomplete. This forced the authors to take care in data compilation and analysis in order to properly assess the potential risk of fluoride use.
“For the first time we have been able to do a comprehensive meta-analysis that has the potential for helping us plan better studies,” said Choi. “We want to make sure that cognitive development is considered as a possible target for fluoride toxicity.”
While the studies might have had some difficulties, the conclusions drawn by Choi and senior author and adjunct professor of environmental health at HSPH, Philippe Grandjean, seem to be quite clear.
Grandjean and Choi collated the various epidemiological studies of children who had been exposed to fluoridated drinking water and the China National Knowledge Infrastructure was also leveraged to find studies published in Chinese journals.
The authors then analyzed the relationship between fluoride exposure and IQ measures in over 8,000 children age 14 and below.
They discovered that in every study but one, highly fluoridated drinking water was linked to problems in cognitive development.
That being said, the average loss was not as significant as some might expect. Averaged out, the loss was only half of a single IQ point, yet some studies indicated that even a slight increase in fluoride exposure could indeed be toxic to the brain.
The researchers further observed that children raised in areas with high fluoride content did, in fact, have significantly lower IQ scores than children who lived in areas with low fluoride.
The authors believe that the toxic effects of fluoride on brain development may have occurred long before the time the children were studied and that the brain may not be able to fully compensate for the toxic effects.
“Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain,” Grandjean says. “The effect of each toxicant may seem small, but the combined damage on a population scale can be serious, especially because the brain power of the next generation is crucial to all of us.”
Personally, I find these statements to be nothing short of astounding. Usually we see fluoride being supported and touted, especially when discussing water fluoridation. These researchers, however, are presenting a much different picture, highlighting the fact that the cumulative damage of all of these toxicants is much more serious than some may want us to believe.
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