Nov. 27 (UPI) – For American children, the health benefits of tap water have risks.
Recent research shows that children and adolescents in the United States who avoid tap water are more likely to have cavities. The data also shows that young people who avoid the use of faucets have lower levels of lead in their blood.
Most municipal water in the USA. UU It is fluoridated, which numerous studies have shown prevents cavities. However, the aging of infrastructure presents risks, including high levels of lead in drinking water.
The lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, is an extreme example of a problem that is quite common in the United States. Studies show that 5,300 water systems in the US UU They violate EPA's lead and copper limits.
When researchers at the University of North Carolina examined blood and dental data from some 16,000 children and adolescents, compiled as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: they found that children who said they did not drink water from the tap were more likely to have had at least one cavity.
Those same children were also less likely to have elevated levels of lead, defined as more than three micrograms in a deciliter of blood.
Researchers found that 3 percent of respondents had elevated levels of lead in their blood. Almost 50 percent had cavities.
"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 press release. "On the other hand, dental caries affects one in two children and its consequences, such as toothache, are immediate and expensive to treat."
Sanders and colleagues published their findings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.  "Our study draws attention to a fundamental disadvantage for parents: children who drink tap water have higher levels of lead in the blood, however, children who avoid tap water are more likely to decay" said researcher Gary D. Slade said. "Community water fluoridation benefits all people, regardless of their income or ability to get routine dental care, but we put this public good at risk when people have some reason to believe that their drinking water is not safe. safe".