Should Infants Drink Fluoridated Water?

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Summation Fluoride Exposure During Infancy:

In contrast to recommendations adopted in the 1950s, fluoride supplementation is no longer recommended for newborn children. This includes both fluoride in drops, and fluoride in drinking water.

Not only is fluoride ingestion during infancy unnecessary, it can also be harmful – as suggested by a mounting body of evidence linking fluoride exposure during the first year of life with the development of dental fluorosis. (For pictures of dental fluorosis, click here)

Because of the risk for dental fluorosis, and the lack of demonstrable benefit from ingesting fluoride before teeth erupt, the American Dental Association – and a growing number of dental researchers – recommend that children under 12 months of age should not consume fluoridated water while babies under 6 months of age should not receive any fluoride drops or pills.

Fluoridated drinking water contains up to 200 times more fluoride than breast milk (1000 ppb in fluoridated tap water vs 5-10 ppb in breast milk). As a result, babies consuming formula made with fluoridated tap water are exposed to much higher levels of fluoride than a breast-fed infant. (A baby drinking fluoridated formula receives the highest dosage of fluoride among all age groups in the population (0.1-0.2+ mg/kg/day), whereas a breast-fed infant receives the lowest).

Dental fluorosis is not the only risk from early-life exposure to fluoride. A recent review in The Lancet describes fluoride as “an emerging neurotoxic substance” that may damage the developing brain. The National Research Council has identified fluoride as an “endocrine disrupter” that may impair thyroid function, while recent research from Harvard University has found a possible connection between fluoride and bone cancer.

FLYER: Fluoride Warning for Infants

ACTION ALERT: Ask Wal-Mart to Stop Selling Fluoride “Nursery Water” to Babies

NEW! Health Alert Flyer (pdf file)

Articles of Interest Fluoride Exposure During Infancy:

Notable Quotes Fluoride Exposure During Infancy: (back to top)

“A major effort should be made to avoid use of fluoridated water for dilution of formula powders.”
SOURCE: Ekstrand J. (1996). Fluoride Intake. In: Fejerskov O, Ekstrand J, Burt B, Eds.
Fluoride in Dentistry, 2nd Edition. Munksgaard, Denmark. Pages 40-52.

“If using a product that needs to be reconstituted, parents and caregivers should consider using water that has no or low levels of fluoride.”
SOURCE: American Dental Association (2006). Interim Guidance on Reconstituted Infant Formula. November 9, 2006.

“[I]nfant formulas reconstituted with higher fluoride water can provide 100 to 200 times more fluoride than breastmilk, or cows milk.”
SOURCE: Levy SM, Guha-Chowdhury N. (1999). Total fluoride intake and implications for dietary fluoride supplementation.
Journal of Public Health Dentistry 59: 211-23.

“[P]arents of children using powdered infant formula should be warned by their medical practioners to use unfluoridated or defluoridated water to reconstitute the formula.”
SOURCE: Diesendorf M, Diesendorf A. (1997). Suppression by medical journals of a warning about overdosing formula-fed infants with fluoride.
Accountability in Research 5:225-237.

“Our analysis shows that babies who are exclusively formula fed face the highest risk; in Boston, for example, more than 60 percent of the exclusively formula fed babies exceed the safe dose of fluoride on any given day.”
SOURCE: Environmental Working Group, “EWG Analysis of Government Data Finds Babies Over-Exposed to Fluoride in Most Major U.S. Cities”, March 22, 2006.

“[M]ore than 50 percent of infants are currently formula fed by 1 month of age, and these infants are likely to be continuously exposed to high intakes of fluoride for 9 or 10 months – a circumstance quite rare in the 1960s and early 1970s.”
SOURCE: Fomon SJ, Ekstrand J. (1999). Fluoride intake by infants. Journal of Public Health Dentistry 59(4):229-34.

“Fluoride is now introduced at a much earlier stage of human development than ever before and consequently alters the normal fluoride-pharmacokinetics in infants. But can one dramatically increase the normal fluoride-intake to infants and get away with it?”
SOURCE: Luke J. (1997).
The Effect of Fluoride on the Physiology of the Pineal Gland. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Surrey, Guildford. p. 176.

‘[F]luoride exposure, at levels that are experienced by a significant proportion of the population whose drinking water is fluoridated, may have adverse impacts on the developing brainThe findings are provocative and of significant public health concern.”
SOURCE: Schettler T, et al. (2000). Known and suspected developmental neurotoxicants. pp. 90-92. In:
In Harms Way – Toxic Threats to Child Development. Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility: Cambridge, MA.

“Infant foods mixed with water pose a special problemOne wonders what a 50-fold increase in the exposure of fluoride, such as occurs in infants bottle-fed with water-diluted preparations, may mean for the development of the brain and other organs… There is reason to be aware of the possibility that fluoride may affect the somatic and mental development of the child.”
SOURCE: Carlsson A. (1978). Current problems relating to the pharmacology and toxicology of fluorides.
Lakartidningen 25: 1388-1392.

“The entire Board holds serious concerns about the current fluoride exposure of infants between the ages of zero and six months. We deem this exposure to be a “significant public health risk”, and one that should be given immediate attention by the city and state.”
SOURCE: Burlington Board of Health (Vermont, USA) August 31, 2005. See copy of full report.

Fluoride Exposure During Infancy Fluoride Supplementation No Longer Recommend for Newborns: (back to top)

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