Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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Effect of endemic fluorosis on cognitive function of school children in Alappuzha District, Kerala: A cross sectional study

 Department of Neurology, Government TD Medical College, Alappuzha, Kerala, India

Correspondence Address:
Prasanth Sudhakaran,
Department of Neurology, Government TD Medical College, Alappuzha - 688005, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aian.AIAN_850_20

Background: Exposure to high fluoride levels in drinking water can lead to a number of adverse effects in children, including cognitive dysfunction. Despite being endemic for fluorosis, studies on its effect on the cognitive function of children are lacking in Kerala. Aims: The aim of this study was to compare the cognitive function of school children with fluorosis with that of normal children and to correlate between the severity of dental fluorosis and cognitive function. Settings and Design: Cross-sectional study, conducted in collaboration with the National Fluorosis Control Programme, among school children in Alappuzha district, Kerala. Methods: Children aged 8–10 years, studying in 2 lower primary schools in Alappuzha district with confirmed fluorosis were selected, and compared with healthy age- and sex-matched children from the same school. Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices and MISIC digit span subtest were used to assess the cognitive function. Statistical Analysis: Continuous variables were assessed by independent samples t test and categorical variables by Chi-square test. The relationship between severity of dental fluorosis and grade of cognitive impairment was assessed using Spearman's correlation. Results: There were 60 children each in fluorosis and control groups. The mean age of the children was 8.95 ± 0.50. Only 15% of the children with fluorosis scored Grade I and II Raven's SPM grades (Intellectually superior/above the average) versus 30% in the control group. None of the children without fluorosis scored Grade V (intellectually impaired) category versus 20% in the fluorosis group. The mean digit span was significantly higher in the control group. A strong positive correlation between severity of dental fluorosis and Raven's SPM grades was found (Spearman's correlation coefficient = 0.740). Conclusions: Fluorosis is associated with impaired cognition in children. There is a positive correlation between severity of dental fluorosis and the grade of cognitive impairment.

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    -  Prabhakar A
    -  Abdulkhayarkutty K
    -  Cheruvallil SV
    -  Sudhakaran P
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