Post #27: Is fluoride water safe for infants?

What type of water do you add to your infant’s baby formula? If you are using fluoridated water, also known as “nursery water,” you could be unknowingly affecting your baby’s teeth.

My interest in the effects of fluoridated water marketed for infants began with my 14 month old niece. About a year ago, my boyfriend’s sister came over to visit, and she brought along a jug of nursery water. While helping her prepare the baby’s bottle, I inquired about the water. She said she had seen it in the baby aisle at the market and was trying it for the first time. I couldn’t help myself: “Have you asked your doctor if it’s safe?”

Her eyes flickered over to me briefly, and my internal alarm sounded: Stop now! None of your business! Retreat!

“I haven’t,” she answered, “but I figured, it’s water, so how bad could it be, really?”

I couldn’t help but agree, but the journalist in me wasn’t letting it go. One of my boyfriend’s biggest complaints is that I can’t leave work at the office. I would sneak away to research articles while he waited, thinking I was going for a quick pee. But for me, it was like a good book, and I had to know the answer. Was it safe for babies? What if it wasn’t? What if there was this whole movement organized against the infant fluoride industry?

She knew what was coming. “Have you heard anything about it?”

“Um, I’m not sure,” I was already making a dash for my laptop. “I’m just going to check real quick…”

When she left an hour or so later, she left the jug behind. What we found was unsettling, to say the least.

Powdered and liquid concentrate infant formulas need to be mixed and diluted with water, and the big baby product companies know it. Sold in baby aisles, fluoridated water is purified water with added fluoride. It claims to be the most “pure” water while also strengthening teeth.

Fluoride is naturally present in all water and when taken appropriately, has been found to be a safe and effective way to preventing tooth decay. However research has shown that babies ingesting infant formulas mixed with fluoridated water may be receiving more fluoride than necessary. Excessive fluoride exposure, especially during early tooth development, can cause enamel fluorosis, a harmless but potentially unsightly dental condition.

According to the CDC, enamel fluorosis affects about every 1 in 3 children in the U.S. and typically appears as a range of cosmetic changes varying from barely noticeable white spots to pitting and staining.

 

The American Dental Association recommends using either low-fluoride or fluoride-free bottled water labeled “distilled”, “purified,” “reverse osmosis filtered” or “demineralized” with infant formulas.

If you are unsure as to what type of water (distilled, purified, boiled, etc.) you should use with your infant formula, consult your healthcare practitioner.

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