A limited amount of fluoride promotes early-life dental health but may adversely affect child development

Fluoride is not needed for organ development or function. Still, certain amounts of fluoride are protective against dental caries. Elevated levels, on the other hand, may have detrimental effects on teeth and bone. Recently, fluoride was identified as a developmental neurotoxicant. Despite limited scientific evidence, this information is being spread via social media, creating a major concern about even low-level fluoride exposure, especially among parents. Thus, further research is urgently warranted. This multi-disciplinary project uses a new prospective mother-child cohort (NICE; n=655) in northern Sweden to assess how fluoride exposure, prenatally and in childhood, impacts child health and development. Fluoride is measured in urine of pregnant women and in their children at 4 months and 4 years. The exposures will be related to detailed dietary intake data to identify sources, and to several health outcomes: i) cognition and behavior at 4 years, ii) immune function and allergy at 1 and 4 years, and iii) pregnancy outcomes and growth up to 1 year. We will explore effect modification by gender and nutrition (mainly selenium, iodine and vitamin D). Results of this multi-disciplinary project will be fundamental for revising the drinking water guideline value for fluoride and for establishment of a tolerable daily intake, which is currently lacking. Also, this research is in line with the SDGs ensuring safe drinking water and healthy lives and wellbeing for all at all ages

Partner organizations

  • Umeå University (Academic, Sweden)
  • Karolinska Institutet (Academic, Sweden)
Start date 01/01/2020
End date 31/12/2022

Published: Tue 18 Feb 2020.