It is sometimes claimed that, as fluoride does not pass readily from the mother to the baby via breast milk, that this is evidence that fluoride is bad and the mother’s body is attempting to protect the baby from it. The argument is a case of comparing apples to oranges.
Today, the mortality rates of infants is dramatically lower in affluent countries than it was historically, because of many medical health improvements over the past century or so. These include, but are not limited to improvements in our understanding of hygiene, disease, physiology and medicine. Vaccination, effective soap and medicine are true modern wonders that we unfortunately take for granted being so detached from the sad history of high infant mortality.
Yet, mother’s milk was as available then as it is today. Sure, breast may be best, but it is not everything. Medical science has improved on this again.
More importantly, the anti-fluoridation advocate making this argument illustrates a lack of understanding of evolution.
Not all people were exposed to environmental fluoride all the time throughout our deep history. Equally, the teeth of our deep ancestors were likely to serve for the better part of their short lives. So there is no evolutionary pressure on the body to expose or protect the baby in relation to fluoride through breast milk. What occurs within breast milk is only the result of what the mother can create, which in turn occurs firstly due to her genetics and then nutrient availability from her diet. The most successful offspring were more likely to live and pass on those favourable genes.
If all people were exposed to high levels of fluoride all the time, but breast milk wasn’t, there would be physiological mechanisms for this, which we could describe. We have such a physiological “love-hate” relationship with sodium chloride (table salt), which the amazing loop of Henle within the kidney manages to keep balanced.
There is no such mechanisms actively regulating fluoride because there is no evolutionary pressure to do so. Milk ducts make milk. Fluoride is not milk. Furthermore, babies do not have teeth and so cannot provide a situation that could allow for evolutionary pressure anyway.
Thus the argument tries to use the mammalian method of feeding young to mean something entirely different, which has nothing to do with the safety or effectiveness of fluoride to improve dental health. It’s like claiming that we cannot swim because we breathe air!
The science is clear that when drinking water is fluoridated to WHO recommended levels, dental health is improved without health risks.