The dentists are worried that fluoride exposure at this age will permanently damage teeth, not protect them. A growing body of research also links fluoride to weakened bones, reduced thyroid activity, and possibly bone cancer in boys.
The advice, however, has gone largely unheeded. Nursery Water, the nation's leading fluoridated water for babies still markets its product nationwide at Wal-Mart and other major retailers.
November 29, 2006
Douglas J. Degn
Executive Vice President, Food, Consumables and Hardlines Merchandising
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611
Dear Mr. Degn,
We are writing to bring to your attention a recent health advisory from the American Dental Association (ADA) that raises serious health concerns about the safety of a product — Nursery Water — currently being sold at Wal-Marts across the country, and to request that, in line with this ADA advice, Wal-Mart stop the sale of this product immediately.
Nursery Water is a form of fluoridated bottled water that is specifically marketed for babies. The product's packaging advises parents to use Nursery Water to reconstitute infant formula and other infant foods. Recent scientific developments, however, have raised concerns about the safety of fluoride for infants.
Citing a major 2006 review of fluoride safety by the National Academy of Sciences, the ADA advised parents and caregivers on November 9th of this year, to not give infants fluoridated water in their formula or food. According to the ADA, consumption of fluoridated water puts a baby at high risk for dental fluorosis (a defect of teeth that causes staining and sometimes corrosion of the enamel.) The ADA's statement followed an October 14th decision from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that bottled waters with added fluoride cannot claim to reduce the risk of cavities for infants.
This advice is all the more striking as the ADA is the nation's leading advocate of water fluoridation. We are concerned, nonetheless, that without further action on the part of retailers and consumer organizations that the public will not be made sufficiently aware of this important change in health recommendations and will continue to put their babies at risk by using this product as currently directed on the label.
We understand that removing a product from your shelves is a significant action but in this case it is clearly justified given that the nation's leading dental authority advises against the precise intended use of the product. We appreciate the leadership role that Wal-Mart has taken on a broad range of environmental and consumer health issues, and we look forward to working with you to remove Nursery Water from your store shelves.
Environmental Working Group
Fluoride Action Network
H. Lee Scott, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Walmart Stores, Inc. Global Ethics Office
Stewart Allen, CEO, DS Waters of America Nursery Water Promotions