Amanda Bonertz drinking a cup of Lethbridge tap water. The mother of three is an advocate for water fluoridation.
Mothers drinking water and brushing their teeth may result in adverse side effects on their unborn children says a new study, conducted by the University of Toronto.
It suggests that children exposed to high levels of fluoride in utero may be less intelligent than those exposed to lower levels.
Tap water in many Canadian communities has been fluoridated for decades in an effort to prevent cavities and improve bone health. It has long been a topic of debate and often provokes strong beliefs on both sides of the matter.
Amanda Bonertz has been a dental assistant for eight years. She has made a career of treating, preventing and caring for teeth in not only children but adults.
Now a mother of three, Bonertz firmly believes the much debated chemical is a necessary part of her children’s well-being and has no qualms with them consuming the contested substance.
“As a mother who has properly educated herself on the effects and benefits of fluoride, I do not fear for my children. They drink tap water, just as I did when I was pregnant,” said Bonertz.
According to the study released in early September, 287 sets of mothers and children in Mexico City at various ages were monitored. The study tracked pregnant women from 1994 to 2005, taking urine samples from the mothers during pregnancy and from their children between six and 12 years of age to assess their exposures to fluoride.
The researchers found a noteworthy link between high levels of fluoride in the mothers when they were pregnant and lower rates of intelligence in the children.
“As a dental assistant, I have seen the differences in children who live in areas with fluoridated water versus those that don’t. There is higher risk of cavities and decay. As a mother, if my children happen to have learning disabilities in the future, fluoride is not even close to what I would believe to be a factor,” said Bonertz.
Bonertz believes fluoride gets a bad reputation because people don’t do the necessary research to learn the benefits and risks associated with fluoride use.
“Of course as with all things there are risk factors to consuming anything. If properly used and not abused, it can have great benefits,” said Bonertz.
Holistic nutritionist Bonnie Heine has long been an advocate for health. Focusing on a natural approach to wellness using diet, lifestyle and purification has led her to make many changes in her life; one of which was eliminating fluoride.
Heine believes that the addition of the chemical in water robs the general public of their liberty and irrevocably damages their health.
“Fluoride in our water is unnecessary, dangerous, and unethical. Mass medicating any sort of population without informed consent is never right for any reason,” said Heine.
Having done extensive research in both her professional and personal endeavours, Heine believes that while the amount of fluoride currently in the water supply doesn’t seem alarming at first glance, the accuracy of ingested amounts are uncontrollable.
“A young, teenage athlete may be drinking three to four times as much as an elderly member of the community just based on lifestyle. We have no control at that point over how much fluoride is actually entering their system and could be leading to serious problems,” said Heine.
Despite the support for fluoridation, Heine struggles to support it being added to the general public’s water and believes ultimately the current system is backwards.
“Those that feel strongly about fluoridated water should be making the active choice to put it into their water, rather than having to make the choice, at our own expense, to remove it,” said Heine.
Raising three children in a community where the water is fluoridated, Bonertz knows she is bound to face backlash from her choices, but remains committed to her matriarchal responsibilities.
“It doesn’t bother me that people may judge me or think my kids are less intelligent because I consume fluoridated water. As long as I am making informed decisions and am doing what is right for myself and my family it is really none of anyone else’s business,” said Bonertz.
Having no children of her own, Heine can only speak optimistically to future parents and their ability to make decisions in this heated debate.
“I would absolutely not feel safe ingesting fluoride if I was pregnant. I also wouldn’t choose to let children ingest it. My hope is that all parents will get to make the choice about whether or not their children are ingesting fluoride,” said Heine.
Researchers in the University study acknowledge that fluoridated water and toothpaste have both substantially reduced the incidence of cavities and should be recognized as a successful medical treatment and admit that more examination is needed on the potential adverse effects of fluoride.