A Benchmark Dose Analysis for Maternal Pregnancy Urine-Fluoride and IQ in Children

medRxiv. 2020 Nov 4;2020.10.31.20221374. doi: 10.1101/2020.10.31.20221374. Preprint


As a safe exposure level for fluoride in pregnancy has not been established, we used data from two prospective studies for benchmark dose modeling. We included mother-child pairs from the Early Life Exposures in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) cohort in Mexico and the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) cohort in Canada. Children were assessed for IQ at age 4 (n=211) and between 6 and 12 years (n=287) in the ELEMENT cohort and between ages 3 and 4 years (n=512) in the MIREC cohort. We calculated covariate-adjusted regression coefficients and their standard errors to explore the concentration-effect function for maternal urinary fluoride with children's IQ, including possible sex-dependence. Assuming a benchmark response of 1 IQ point, we derived benchmark concentrations (BMCs) of maternal urinary fluoride and benchmark concentration levels (BMCLs). No deviation from linearity was detected from the results of the two studies. Using a linear slope, the BMC for maternal urinary fluoride associated with a 1-point decrease in IQ scores of preschool-aged boys and girls was 0.29 mg/L (BMCL, 0.18 mg/L). The BMC was 0.30 mg/L (BMCL, 0.19 mg/L) when pooling the IQ scores from the older ELEMENT children and the MIREC cohort. Boys showed slightly lower BMC values compared with girls. Relying on two prospective studies, maternal urine-fluoride exposure at levels commonly occurring in the general population, the joint data showed BMCL results about 0.2 mg/L. These results can be used to guide decisions on preventing excess fluoride exposure in vulnerable populations.

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