Everything Birth, of course, advocates breastfeeding. However, for some women that is not always possible. Women who must use formula to feed their babies need to be aware of yet another consideration while prepping their babies’ bottles.
In 2010, a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that fluoride intake during a child’s first few years of life is significantly associated with fluorosis. It then warned against using fluoridated water in infant formula. You’ve probably already seen the nursery water for babies that had added fluoride, but some women, unaware of the need to be concerned, may not realize that fluoride is also added to city tap water. Now, just because people sell something doesn’t mean it’s best for the baby. So, after learning about this information, I personally would never purchase the nursery water with added fluoride. City water, boiled or not, though is not suggested to be used to reconstitute dry formula. Even the CDC stated, “Recent evidence suggests that mixing powdered or liquid infant formula concentrate with fluoridated water on a regular basis may increase the chance of a child developing … enamel fluorosis.”
Of course, there are even more health concerns with getting too much fluoride, but that’s another post. Dental fluorosis is a condition in which your tooth enamel becomes progressively discolored and mottled. If progressive enough it can be damaging to teeth in more than just a cosmetic way as well. Regardless of the severity though, new mothers choosing to formula feed need to be aware of the risks involved with using fluoridated city water for their baby bottles. Adding fluoride to tap water is banned in a majority of European nations already. Some cities in the US are now changing their minds about adding fluoride to their water, but most still go out of their way and pay more money to purchase fluoride to be added to their city’s water supply.
In New Hampshire, a bill passed through the house and senate and was adopted this month (May 15th) mandating water bills include a warning stating, “Your public water supply is fluoridated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if your child under the age of 6 months is exclusively consuming infant formula reconstituted with fluoridated water, there may be an increased chance of dental fluorosis. Consult your child’s health care provider for more information.”
As parents we weigh the risks. Currently, the benefits of fluoride are believed to be from topical use only. Given that, there is no real benefit to drinking water that has added fluoride. Given that there appears to be no benefit and some risks to using fluoridated tap water in our bottles, the choice seems pretty clear to me.