Exposure to high fluoride concentrations in drinking water is associated with decreased birth rates
A review of fluoride toxicity showed decreased fertility in most animal species studied. The current study was to see whether fluoride would also affect human birth rates. A U.S. database of drinking water systems was used to identify index counties with water systems reporting fluoride levels of at least 3 ppm. These and adjacent counties were grouped in 30 regions spread over 9 states. For each county, two conceptionally different exposure measures were defined, and the annual total fertility rate (TFR) for women in the age range 10?49 yr was calculated for the period 1970?1988. For each region separately, the annual TFR was regressed on the fluoride measure and sociodemographic covariables. Most regions showed an association of decreasing TFR with increasing fluoride levels. Meta?ana/ysis of the region?specific results confirmed that the combined result was a negative TFR/fluoride association with a consensus combined p value of .0002?.0004, depending on the analytical scenario. There is no evidence that this outcome resulted from selection bias, inaccurate data, or improper analytical methods. However, the study is one that used population means rather than data on individual women. Whether or not the fluoride effect on the fertility rate found at the county level also applies to individual women remains to be investigated.