Queensland study gives green light for fluoride in drinking water

Having fluoride in your town’s drinking water is safe and does not affect a child’s development, research out of Queensland has shown.

Oct 10, 2022, updated Oct 10, 2022
A Queensland University study has found that fluoride in drinking water has no negative effect. (File image)

A Queensland University study has found that fluoride in drinking water has no negative effect. (File image)

Emotional and behavioural development, memory and self control were the same in children who drank fluoridated water and those who did not, a University of Queensland study found.

“There was no difference in child development and function related to fluoridated water,” study lead and professor in dental public health Loc Do said.

The longitudinal study released on Monday assessed 2682 children between the ages of five and 10 from Australia’s National Child Oral Health study, following up with them seven to eight years later.

Some children lived in postcodes with fluoridated water and some did not.

Participants were measured for their emotional and behavioural development, and their executive functioning development.

The study found drinking tap water with fluoride does not hinder a child’s emotional or behavioural development, with no difference detected between children who lived in the different postcodes.

It also found there was no difference in the development of their higher functions.

While numerous studies have assessed the effectiveness of fluoride on dental health, Prof Do’s research on safety is an Australian first.

The findings mean drinking fluoridated water is safe, and supports the continuation and expansion of the country’s fluoridation program, he said.

About 90 per cent of the country’s water has fluoride added to it, although only 71 per cent of Queensland councils use fluoride.

A small, well-organised community opposed to water fluoridation had been emboldened by research published out of China suggesting fluoride may affect child development, Prof Do said.

“As a scientist and a health professional, we need to assure that the public and the policymakers about the safety of the program we use for disease prevention,” he said.

He compared water fluoridation to common childhood vaccines, saying overwhelming evidence showed the shots were safe for children.

Despite this, small, noisy groups will still oppose vaccines.

Tooth decay and dental cavities are the most common, chronic childhood diseases worldwide.

Those diseases cause children pain, lead to infection and the loss of teeth, Prof Do added.

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