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Sex-specific neurotoxic effects of early-life exposure to fluoride

Full Title: Sex-specific neurotoxic effects of early-life exposure to fluoride: A review of the epidemiologic and animal literature

Green R, Rubenstein J, Popoli R, Capulong R, Till C

Current Epidemiology Reports

Purpose of Review

A growing body of evidence suggests adverse neurodevelopmental effects of early-life exposure to fluoride that may differ depending on timing of exposure and sex of the exposed. We conducted a literature search to identify the animal and human epidemiologic studies that examined sex-specific neurodevelopmental differences in response to prenatal and postnatal exposure to fluoride.

Recent Findings

Six of 138 animal studies and 15 of 106 human epidemiologic studies tested for sex-specific effects. Prenatal exposure to fluoride was associated with a male susceptibility to adverse behavioural effects in four of six animal studies and lower IQ in one of three prospective cohort studies. The body of evidence examining sex effects associated with postnatal fluoride exposure was scarce, and many animal and cross-sectional human studies were considered to have a high risk of bias.


Compared with females, male offspring appear to be more sensitive to prenatal, but not postnatal, exposure to fluoride. We discuss several sex-specific mechanisms and emphasize the need for future research.

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