Dose dependence of prenatal fluoride exposure associations with cognitive performance at school age in three prospective studies

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BACKGROUND: Fluoride may be a developmental neurotoxicant at elevated exposures. We merged new data from a prospective Odense Child Cohort (OCC) with results from two previous birth cohort studies from Mexico and Canada to characterize the dose-effect relationship in greater detail.

METHODS: The OCC contributed 837 mother-child pairs to the total of >1500. We measured creatinine-adjusted urine-fluoride concentrations in maternal urine samples obtained during late pregnancy. Child IQ was determined at age 7 years using an abbreviated version of the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children. Findings from the three cohorts were used to calculate the joint benchmark concentration (BMC) and the lower confidence limit (BMCL) after adjustment for covariables.

RESULTS: In the OCC, urine-fluoride concentrations varied between 0.08 and 3.04 mg/l (median 0.52 mg/l) but were not significantly associated with full-scale IQ at age 7 years (β = 0.08; 95% confidence interval -1.14 to 1.30 for a doubling in exposure). No difference was apparent between boys and girls. In the OCC, the BMC was 0.92 mg/l, with a BMCL of 0.30 mg/l. The joint analysis of all three cohorts showed a statistically significant association between urine-fluoride and IQ, with a BMC of 0.45 mg/l (BMCL, 0.28 mg/l), slightly higher than the BMC previously reported for the two North American cohorts alone.

CONCLUSIONS: As the BMCL reflects an approximate threshold for developmental neurotoxicity, the results suggest that pregnant women and children may need protection against fluoride toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)143–149
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association 2023.

ID: 370662164