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A University of North Carolina (UNC) dentist is recruiting infants from Lenoir County, NC, for an experiment exposing them to fluoride, which has been shown in dozens of studies to lower IQ, according to the Fluoride Action Network.
The study, named waterBEST and led by dental researcher Dr. Gary Slade, would give bottled water with fluoride to infants starting at age 3-6 months and continuing to age 4 years. It is intended to test whether fluoridated water reduces cavities.
The study’s Informed Consent document, which parents must sign, fails to mention the risk of lowered IQ.
National Institutes of Health guidelines for human medical experimentation require that participants be fully informed of risks and that risks do not outweigh potential benefits.
Fluoride Action Network detailed how the waterBEST study violates these requirements in a formal Letter of Concern to the UNC Institutional Review Board that is responsible for monitoring the ethics of human research.
Editors of the Journal of the American Medical Association say the loss of IQ from fluoride is “on a par with lead.”
Other experts, including Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., past National Toxicology Program director, stress the need to avoid fluoride:
“Given the weight of evidence that fluoride is toxic to the developing brain, it is time [to] protect pregnant women and their children [and recommend they] reduce their fluoride intake.”
Slade hopes the study will provide evidence to support the expansion of fluoridation in the US. In a 2018 article, he advised avoidance of “mixed messages” that inform people of fluoridation’s pros and cons. The Informed Consent document for waterBEST reflects that attitude.
Fluoride Action Network is also concerned that the children will be recruited from a community that is 40% Black and 11% Latino and other minorities, and is one of the poorest regions in North Carolina, thus making this an Environmental Justice issue.
Fluoride Action Network Director, Paul Connett, Ph.D., said:
“Is it worth losing 5 IQ points to prevent one cavity? This study is ethically unacceptable. It puts vulnerable children at risk.”