JAMA Bombshell: Fluoride in Pregnancy Linked to Worse Child Behavior Outcomes

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A groundbreaking study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has sent shockwaves through the public health community, providing damning evidence that prenatal exposure to fluoride - long added to public water supplies for dental health - may come at a previously unrecognized cost: harming fetal brain development and leading to neurobehavioral problems in children. The findings add to a growing body of research challenging fluoride's safety, especially for vulnerable pregnant women and their developing babies.

In a cohort study of 229 mother-child pairs, researchers found that higher levels of fluoride exposure during pregnancy were significantly associated with increased neurobehavioral problems in children by age 3.1 For each 0.68 mg/L increase in maternal urinary fluoride levels, children had nearly double the odds of total neurobehavioral issues reaching the borderline clinical or clinical range.2

Specifically, higher prenatal fluoride levels were tied to a 2.29-point increase in internalizing problem scores, including emotional reactivity, anxiety, withdrawal, and somatic complaints, as well as a 2.14-point increase in total neurobehavioral problem scores.3 Children of mothers with greater fluoride exposure were also rated higher on symptoms related to Autism Spectrum Disorder. As the authors note, these effect sizes are concerning given the relatively low fluoride levels in the study sample, which are typical for fluoridated areas in the US.4

The JAMA findings add to a growing body of evidence from Canada, Mexico, and other countries linking higher prenatal fluoride exposure to adverse cognitive and behavioral outcomes, including lower IQ scores.5 While fluoride's developmental neurotoxicity is well-established at high levels, recent studies suggest risks may also exist at lower exposures from fluoridated water, underscoring the need for a precautionary approach during the vulnerable prenatal period.

These latest neurodevelopmental concerns join an extensive body of research in the GreenMedInfo.com database revealing fluoride's little-recognized dark side. With over 300 studies, the database links fluoride to more than 100 adverse health effects, from hypothyroidism6 and immune dysfunction7 to skeletal fluorosis8 and, most troublingly, neurotoxicity.9

Animal and cellular studies provide clues to the mechanisms behind fluoride's harmful neurodevelopmental impacts, including oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, disrupted neurotransmitter signaling, and altered thyroid function - all of which can derail healthy brain development.10 Coupled with the vulnerability of the developing brain, fluoride's ability to cross the placenta and accumulate in fetal tissue raises a red flag for prenatal exposures.11

In light of the evidence, the JAMA study authors conclude that "there may be a need to establish recommendations for limiting fluoride exposure during the prenatal period," echoing previous calls from researchers and health advocates. While fluoride's role in preventing tooth decay is well-established, a one-size-fits-all approach via community water fluoridation is increasingly seen as outdated given the availability of topical fluoride products and rising concerns about unintended impacts, especially for pregnant women and young children.

As the science continues to unfold, it's clear that a precautionary approach to prenatal fluoride exposure is warranted. Pregnant women should be informed about potential risks and empowered to reduce their exposures through filtered water, fluoride-free toothpastes, and avoiding high-fluoride foods like tea. Policymakers must also reevaluate current fluoridation practices in light of the evolving evidence, prioritizing the safety of our most vulnerable populations.

The JAMA study is a clarion call for greater research, oversight, and public education around the little-known risks of prenatal fluoride exposure. With the stakes for healthy fetal development so high, it's time to rethink our indiscriminate fluoridation practices and put the wellbeing of pregnant women and their children first. The science sounds a clear warning: in the delicate dance of fetal brain development, fluoride may do far more harm than good.

To learn more about fluoride, visit the GreenMedInfo database on the subject here


1 Malin AJ, Eckel SP, Hu H, et al. Maternal Urinary Fluoride and Child Neurobehavior at Age 36 Months. JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(5):e2411987. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.11987

2 Malin et al, JAMA.

3 Malin et al, JAMA.

4 Malin et al, JAMA.

5 Malin et al, JAMA.

6 GreenMedInfo.com, Fluoride Toxic Ingredient, "Fluoride's Thyroid Disrupting Properties," Accessed May 25, 2024.

7 GreenMedInfo.com, Fluoride Toxic Ingredient, "Fluoride Exposure Linked to Autoimmune Disease," Accessed May 25, 2024.

8 GreenMedInfo.com, Fluoride Toxic Ingredient, "Fluoride: Calcifier of the Soul," Accessed May 25, 2024.

9 GreenMedInfo.com, Fluoride Toxic Ingredient, "Fluoride Exposure & Neurotoxicity," Accessed May 25, 2024. 

10 GreenMedInfo.com, Fluoride Toxic Ingredient, "Mechanisms of Fluoride Neurotoxicity," Accessed May 25, 2024.

11 GreenMedInfo.com, Fluoride Toxic Ingredient, "Prenatal Fluoride Exposure," Accessed May 25, 2024.
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