Most of us typically don’t think much about fluoride as we’re going about our day to day lives. But when we’re pregnant or planning to be, we may start to get a little more critical about everything that’s going into our body. Does fluoride impact pregnancy? In this post, we’ll take a look at what the research says, what we can do about it, and what our practical options are.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a halogen on the periodic table of the elements. This makes it in the same family as other halogens like iodine, chlorine, bromine, and astatine, meaning these are all chemically similar.
When it was discovered that fluoride might impact cavities on teeth, it began an era of fluoridating water in many cities. When this began, we of course didn’t have long term safety data on whether or not there were any other effects from fluoride, especially fluoride in pregnancy. Now that we’ve been fluoridating for decades, that information is coming to light and it’s not looking very pretty.
What Does the Research Say About Fluoride in Pregnancy?
Current research links fluoride to hypothyroidism. Fluoride actually used to be a treatment for OVERactive thyroid since it was shown to suppress thyroid function. Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormones, and due to the chemical similarities the two share, fluoride blocks iodine from being used in the body. This results in poor thyroid hormone production which we know is linked to many adverse health and pregnancy outcomes, including an increased risk of miscarriage and poor brain development for babies.
High fluoride intake by mom while baby was in utero has also been linked to lower IQ scores in children. Other research shows changes in the brains in rats exposed to fluoride in utero. In India, large intakes of fluoride in pregnancy was linked to increase risk in maternal anemia, miscarriage, and congenital defects in baby. In Mexico, fluoride exposure in utero was linked to increased incidence of inability to concentrate in offspring, suggesting more evidence mounting that fluoride alters proper brain development.
Studies aren’t completely definitive as there are many confounding variables that can be difficult to take into account and I believe more research is warranted. Of course, as with nearly all research in pregnancy, it’s unethical to do double blind placebo studies (the gold standard for research) with anything that may be causing harm to mothers and their children.
In the meantime, the evidence is mounting that it’s not that favorable. We can take steps to reduce our exposure to fluoride, by mainly filtering it out from our water. This can help us create a more nourishing environment for our own health and that of our growing babies.
How Do I Know if My City’s Water if Fluoridated?
Contacting your city is the best way to learn if your city’s water is still fluoridated. You can also ask for a report on the water content which should be able to detail the concentration of fluoride, as well as other possible contaminants.
Try searching online first for the answer. Many cities have an FAQ page where the info may be found. If you can’t find the info, you can always call the city directly, and they’ll be able to direct you to someone who can answer that for you.
Some online sources also have copies of water quality in your area. You can visit this EWG site to learn more about your water situation by putting your zipcode in.
If you’re in CA, you can access this site to see about fluoridation. I think it’s still worthwhile to contact your city directly in case online information is outdated.
Even if you don’t use city water and possibly have well water, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook in worrying about your water. The opposite may in fact be true. Our soil naturally contains metals and other contaminants that occur from agriculture and other varieties of human activity, but it can accumulate to levels we should be concerned about. If you’re interested in knowing what’s in your well water, you can order a water test kit such as MyTapScore and test it yourself.
Can I Remove Fluoride From the Water My Family Drinks?
YES! If your water is fluoridated, that is definitely what I recommend. I would want drinking, eating, and cooking water to all be fluoride free at the least.
When looking for water filter options, you are looking for something that will ideally take more out than just fluoride. You also want it to reduce or remove the following contaminants:
- heavy metals
- PFAS (and other “forever chemicals”)
- and more
Few water filters will actually target fluoride removal, so it’s important to be very careful when selecting one. Two options that I recommend for removing fluoride are the Berkey water filter systems and Aqua Tru filters. They may not get it all, but reducing our overall burden goes a long way in our health and that of our growing children.
For the Berkey water filters, they are portable (so better for renters, or those who move frequently). They can be placed right near a sink or wherever is most convenient in your home they come in multiple sizes based on your family size. The fluoride filters can be purchased separately and will be installed in the bottom cavity of the filter. They are also a great part of emergency preparedness so you’re never caught without the ability to get fast, clean, water.
There are options for whole-house water filters as well that are installed more permanently. This may be an option if you’re concerned about bathing water, don’t want to mess with countertop filters, or are living in more of your long-term home and own your home.
There are other ways to neutralize unwanted chemicals in bathing water as well though, so even if you rent, you can get a countertop filter for drinking/cooking water, and still reduce the harmful chemicals you and your family bathes in.
Do your research to find the one that works the best for you and your family!
Did you know this about Fluoride? Leave a comment if you found this post useful!