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Iron supplements and Teeth

New theory examines the relationship of teeth and lifetime exposure to metals and toxins

Pouring supplements

Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the University of Technology Sydney and Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Australia are investigating a new theory that too much iron in infant formula may potentially increase the risk of neurodegerative diseases (e.g. Parkinson’s) and that our teeth may provide a record of exposure to metals and toxins during early development.

On some levels, our teeth can provide a record of exposure, for example, to antibiotics (tetracycline) and fluoride (causing fluorosis). These can manifest as colour changes or specks visible on the teeth itself. The new theory takes one step further by examining other potential toxins and metals which may be incorporated into the developing teeth.

“…”Teeth are of particular interest to us for the measurement of chemical exposure in fetal and childhood development: they provide a chronological record of exposure from their microchemical composition in relation to defined growth lines, much like the rings in a tree trunk,” said Manish Arora, BDS, MPH, PhD, Director of Exposure Biology at the Senator Frank Lautenberg Environmental Health Sciences Laboratory at Mount Sinai and Associate Professor in Preventive Medicine and Dentistry at the Icahn School of Medicine. “Our analysis of iron deposits in teeth as a method for retrospective determination of exposure is just one application: we believe teeth have the potential to help track the impact of pollution on health globally.”

…Beyond the wide-reaching hypothesis that iron supplementation may increase risk of neurodegeneration, the authors think a priority in pediatric research should be the rigorous determination of iron supplementation needs of infants according to their individual iron status. Formula manufacturers have a responsibility to replicate the chemical composition of breast milk, particularly with regard to iron content. The current ‘one size fits all’ approach to iron supplementation may be both clinically unnecessary and introduce an unacceptable risk later in life. Whether this hypothesis proves to be true or not, it calls into question decades of treatment dogma that deserves to be revisited with the most cutting-edge technology available.”

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