Water fluoridation plan to be shelved by Wakefield Council

Dr Andrew Furber
Dr Andrew Furber
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A controversial proposal to put fluoride in the district’s drinking water to cut tooth decay is set to be shelved.

A council watchdog has decided there is not enough evidence to prove water fluoridation would work and not be harmful to public health.

Wakefield Council was considering the move after research showed 40 per cent of five-year-olds and one in five three-year-olds had decayed teeth.

Public health evidence was being looked at by the Adults and Health overview and scrutiny committee.

Dr Andrew Furber, Wakefield’s director of public health, said: “They have decided the quality of the evidence is not sufficient to carry out the next stage, which would be a full review of all the evidence.

“The recommendation of the committee, which is meeting on June 9, is that in two years’ time another preliminary review is carried out.”

Claims had previously been made that a US study linked exposure to fluoridated water with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among kids.

Concerns were also raised that adding fluoride to tap water would be medicating the population without their permission.

The committee’s report said: “The committee believes that the research evidence is of insufficient quality to allow confident statements about potential harm or whether there is an impact on social inequalities.”

Wakefield Council carried out a comprehensive review of children’s oral health in 2007. At the time fluoridation was considered as a possible means of reducing tooth decay.

The report said ethical and environmental factors were outside of the committee’s remit.

It added: “However, as community leaders, it is important that councillors consider the ethical implications of water fluoridation, particularly given the controversy about whether this would constitute mass medication.”