A social media post claims Harvard University has confirmed fluoride in water damage the brain. We fact-checked and found the claim to be Half True. The study does not establish fluoride as a risk factor for cognitive disorder. However, other scientific papers speculate fluoride accumulation in brain stops its normal development.
A Twitter post claims Harvard university has confirmed fluoride in water causes cognitive disorders and lowers IQ. Also, this post had 219 retweets and 630 till we last checked.
What does the study in the claimed Twitter post say?
The study in the claimed Twitter post concluded that their results support the possibility of an adverse effect from high fluoride on children brain development. This study does not establish fluoride as a risk factor for brain damage that causes cognitive disorder and low IQ. Also, the paper nowhere shows how fluoride causes the differences in IQ scores.
To understand why the study is linked to the Harvard university, we searched about the investigators. We found that one of the investigators works at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Does fluoride damage the brain by causing cognitive disorders and lower IQ?
Not enough evidence. The available scant research suggest high intake of fluoride is bad for brain health. However, exact mechanism through which fluoride can cause cognitive disorders and lowers IQ is not clearly known.
An article published in 2021 suggests fluoride may cause mitochondria dysfunction to impact neurodevelopment. A review published in 2018 suggests that fluoride can accumulate in the pineal gland of the brain to damage its normal functioning.
On the contrary, a study published in 2014 and done on ducks concluded that high fluoride concentrations might not be found in mammal brains. But fluoride might interact with other metals to increase the accumulation of toxic elements and cause micronutrient deficiency in humans.
Through these papers, it is difficult to understand how fluoride causes cognitive disorders and lower IQ.
We asked Dr Abhishek Juneja, Consultant Neurologist in Delhi, to shed some light on this issue. In reply, he said, “excessive consumption of fluoride through drinking water may negatively impact a developing brain. Parents must ensure boiled or RO water for their kids.”
Dr Juneja’s quote made us search about the allowed fluoride content in drinking water in India. The IndiaWaterPortal.org website informs the limit is 1.5 mg/L.
The Indian National Health Portal website informs that high fluoride intake is associated with fluorosis in the country. Fluorosis is a health condition that causes white and brown stains on teeth. According to this website, fluorosis in India is mainly due to fluoride in water, food products and industrial pollutants. Even excessive long-term use of fluoride toothpaste can harm teeth.
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