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Are fluoride levels in drinking water associated with hypothyroidism prevalence in England? A large observational study of GP practice data and fluoride levels in drinking water

Peckham, S., Lowery, D., Spencer, S. (2015) Are fluoride levels in drinking water associated with hypothyroidism prevalence in England? A large observational study of GP practice data and fluoride levels in drinking water. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 69 . pp. 619-624. ISSN 0143-005X. E-ISSN 1470-2738. (doi:10.1136/jech-2014-204971) (KAR id:47338)

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Abstract

Background

approximately 10% of the population live in areas with community fluoridation schemes and hypothyroidism prevalence can be assessed from general practice data. This observational study examines the association between levels of fluoride in water supplies with practice level hypothyroidism prevalence.

We used a cross-sectional study design using secondary data to develop binary logistic regression models of predictive factors for hypothyroidism prevalence at practice level using 2012 data on fluoride levels in drinking water, 2012/2013 Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) diagnosed hypothyroidism prevalence data, 2013 General Practitioner registered patient numbers and 2012 practice level Index of Multiple Deprivation scores.

We found that higher levels of fluoride in drinking water provide a useful contribution for predicting prevalence of hypothyroidism. We found that practices located in the West Midlands (a wholly fluoridated area) are nearly twice as likely to report high hypothyroidism prevalence in comparison to Greater Manchester (non-fluoridated area). Interpretation In many areas of the world, hypothyroidism is a major health concern and in addition to other factors—such as iodine deficiency—fluoride exposure should be considered as a contributing factor. The findings of the study raise particular concerns about the validity of community fluoridation as a safe public health measure.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1136/jech-2014-204971
Uncontrolled keywords: hypothyroidism, fluoridation
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R729 Types of medical practice > R729.5.G4 General practice
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Depositing User: Stephen Peckham
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2015 10:01 UTC
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 03:11 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/47338 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Peckham, S.: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7002-2614
Spencer, S.: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2396-5329
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