A recent study published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics has found that drinking too much fluoridated water during pregnancy may account for a nominal dip in IQ in male children. The Canadian study revealed that among pregnant women whose urine contained fluoride, an increase of 1 milligram accounted for an average 4.5-point reduction in their sons’ IQs. For those with girls, no significant decrease in IQ points was present.
Despite these findings, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association still recommend pregnant women continue drinking fluoridated water, though both organizations recommend possibly reducing the amount consumed while pregnant.
Dr. Allison Lesko of Fort Collins, Colorado, agrees.
“Fluoridated water is still an excellent way to get the much-needed fluoride to protect your teeth and your child’s developing teeth from cavities,” she says.
Cavities affect up to 90 percent of the population, with one in four adults having untreated cavities.
“Poor oral health can take its toll on overall health, especially in pregnant women,” says Lesko.
Things like gum disease have been proven to cause low birth weight in babies, and gum disease can be caused by cavities if the cavity irritates the gums.
“Our oral health is tied closely to our overall health, and that includes both the teeth and gums,” Lesko says.
Another organization, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, echoes the importance of oral health care during pregnancy and continues to recommend pregnant women brush with fluoridated toothpaste during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has agreed to consider this new information when updating its pregnancy guidelines.
Lesko, for her part, says it’s important for people to not misunderstand the study and be scared away from fluoride altogether.
“The recommendation of the study’s authors is that pregnant women reduce fluoride levels, not discontinue them entirely,” she says.
Lesko recommends alternating fluoridated tap water with un-fluoridated bottled water.
“By simply swapping out a few glasses of water per day with un-fluoridated water, you can cut your fluoride levels and hopefully boost the IQ a little bit,” she says. “But be sure to continue drinking fluoridated water to some degree and make sure to resume your normal level of fluoridated water intake after the pregnancy.”
If by chance you do still develop gingivitis or cavities during pregnancy, Lesko says don’t panic.
“We can still perform fillings during pregnancy.”
Gingivitis is a common pregnancy issue. Upwards of 70 percent of women develop what is known as pregnancy gingivitis, sometimes despite excellent oral care. The good news, according to Lesko, is that the condition usually clears up on its own following the birth of the child. However, pregnant women are still encouraged to visit the dentist frequently during pregnancy to monitor their oral health.