Children who avoid tap water have lower lead concentration but more tooth decay.
"Elevated blood lead levels affect only a small minority of children, but the health consequences are profound and permanent," researcher Anne E. Sanders said.
For children in the United States, the health benefits of tap water are accompanied by risks.
New research shows that American children and adolescents avoiding tap water tend to cause tooth decay. This data also shows that the concentration of lead in
the blood of young people avoiding tap water is low.
Most municipal water in the United States is treated with fluoride. Many studies have proven that fluoride prevents caries tooth. However, with the aging of infrastructure, there is a risk that the lead concentration of drinking water will rise.
The lead crisis in Flint, Michigan is an extreme example of fairly common problems in the United States. According to the survey, 5,300 water systems in the United States are in violation of EPA's lead and copper limitations.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina examined the blood and dental data of about 16,000 children and adolescents collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Survey. As a result, it turned out that children who answered that they did not drink tap water had at least one decayed tooth.
These same children are also unlikely to raise the lead concentration in the blood.
The researchers discovered that 3% of the study subjects showed elevated lead levels. Almost 50% had caries.
"Elevated blood lead levels affect only a small minority of children, but the health consequences are profound and permanent," UNC researcher Anne E. Sanders said in a news release. "On the other hand, tooth decay affects one in every two children, and its consequences, such as a toothache, are immediate and costly to treat."
"Our study draws attention to a critical trade-off for parents: children who drink tap water are more likely to have elevated blood lead levels, yet children who avoid tap water are more likely to have tooth decay," researcher Gary D. Slade said. "Community water fluoridation benefits all people, irrespective of their income or ability to obtain routine dental care. Yet we jeopardize this public good when people have any reason to believe their drinking water is unsafe."