A Critical Response to Antifluoridationist
Yolanda Whyte, M.D.

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Yolanda M. Whyte, M.D. has been actively opposing fluoridation during the past few years. She speaks at community meetings, has testified at legislative hearings, and is currently appearing in a video sponsored by the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), the primary U.S. antifluoridation organization. This article dissects some of her views and indicates why they should be disregarded.

Background Information

Whyte's Web site bio states:

Dr. Yolanda Whyte has been practicing primary care pediatrics for 7 years. She began her career as Director of Pediatrics at a rural community hospital, and contracts with other pediatricians throughout the state of Georgia and Indian Health Service. She has used telemedicine and speaks some Spanish. Her most rewarding experiences have been on medical mission trips to Ghana, Vietnam, Guyana, Jamaica and Haiti.

Dr. Whyte's expertise is in environmental health and advocacy, where she lobbies and provides medical testimony to politicians and other policymakers on air pollution, water quality, food quality and safe chemicals. Ensuring that public policies have health-protective, environmental and pediatric considerations is crucial, and has the greatest impact on preventing chronic disease and premature death, especially in children. She serves as a medical consultant to a number of environmental health organizations, and speaking engagements are done at schools, community groups and advocacy groups.

Dr. Yolanda Whyte attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. at age 16 years and graduated with honors, earning a B.S. in Biology. She earned her medical degree at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine in Madison, and received the Medical Student Leadership Award. Her pediatric internship was at Medical College of Virginia, and she completed pediatric residency at Morehouse School of Medicine, where she was appointed Pediatric Resident Representative, Pediatric Chair of Morehouse Resident Association and received a Pediatric Residency Teaching Award.

Research training in genetic studies was done at the National Institutes of Health, where she co-authored a paper in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Research training in virology was done at the University of California San Diego, as a fellow of the American Society for Microbiology [1].

The Web site does not mention whether or not she is board-certified. The American Board of Medical Specialties does not list her in its database, which means she is not. The HealthTap Web site (for which she answers questions) stated that she was, but this was removed after I asked the management to check. The description of her practice suggests that she does mainly locum tenens work (temporarily filling in for other doctors).

The Antifluoridation Video

In December 2012, a FAN video presentation by Whyte was posted to YouTube. The claims she makes include:

Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland has posted a superb response to Whyte's misleading FAN video.

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The Milwaukee Hearing

In May 2012, at a City Council hearing in Milwaukee, Whyte stated that she spent about half her time practicing pediatrics in Atlanta and half doing lobbying. She went on to say that fluoride is a toxin and claimed that fluorosis is as common as cavities and that she diagnoses it at least five times a day. Her presentation, which lasted about 20 minutes, is probably the wildest attack I have ever observed on the subject. She spoke very rapidly and made one dramatic charge after another. The hearing was called to discuss a resolution intended to bring an immediate halt to fluoridation in Milwaukee. Prudent observers should conclude that if even one item on Whyte's enormous "laundry list" of criticisms were valid, fluoridation would have been stopped worldwide. The hearing was called to consider a resultion to halt fluoridation in Milwaukee. Fortunately, the council members modified the proposal and voted to keep fluoridation but lower the concentration from 1.1 ppm to 0.7 ppm [10].

 

This image, abstracted from the city's video of the hearing, shows one of the 23 PowerPoint slides she displayed during her testimony. Another of her slides suggested that fluoridation was responsible for higher rates of kidney disease, criminal behavior, and poor academic achievement among blacks. Wow!!

Whyte's Reaction to Me

Before posting the first version of this article, I telephoned Whyte to ask whether she is board certified and to offer her a chance to check the article before it was publicly displayed. At about 8:30 P.M., I phoned the number listed on medical directory sites, thinking that I would reach an answring service that wuld relay a message to her. But it turned out to me her home number and Whyte answered it herself. (I assume this means she does not have an office f her own.) I told her who I was and indicated that I had concerns about her fluoridation views and had read a number of things about her on the Web. After I asked her about board certification, she became defensive, said I was freaking her out, and hung up the phone. A few minutes later, I called back to ask for her e-mail address so I could mail her a link to the article. When she said I should get it from her Web site, I ended the call, e-mailed her the link, and sent it again a day later after the draft was revised. She sent this response at 2:58 AM on February 7th.

Stephen Barrett,

I resent
1)being called by you at 8:30pm on 2/5/13
2)the bombastic tone of your voice
3)your baseless interrogation of me
4)your reference to me as a quack and
5)your reference to me as being extremely dishonest

You may recall I referred to you as "weird" and clearly expressed that I am not comfortable communicating with you. Despite this, you called again in the night and sent me 2 emails.

Considering your unprofessional behaviors . . . I wish to have no future contact with you via phone, email, online, in-person or any other method. This should've been clear when I hung up on you twice.

From all your websites still under construction, I see you are distracted from completing tasks. It is unfortunate that you lack the competence to challenge me in a more constructive manner.

STOP STALKING ME! STOP HARASSING ME!

Yolanda Whyte, MD

Whyte sent copies of this message to atlantacops@atlantaga.gov and to Tim Bolen, whose favorite activities seem to be spreading false information about me and trying to stir up trouble. She also complained to Pennsylvania's medical licensing board that I had phoned her at home during evening hours and proceeded to "lambaste and harass" her. Nobody from the board asked me what had happened, but, on April 3, 2013, I received a notice that her complaint was dismissed.

The Bottom Line

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has included fluoridation of drinking water among the ten great public health achievements of the twentieth century [11]. Fluoridation is supported by public health departments and relevant major professional organizations throughout the developed world. In my opinion, Whyte's views on fluoridation reflect extreme ignorance and suggest that she is a "true believer" of the type described by Eric Hoffer in his classic book [12].

References

  1. About me. Yolanda White Web site, accessed Feb 4, 2013.
  2. National Research Council Committee on Fluoride in Drinking Water. Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA's Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2006.
  3. Proposed HHS recommendation for fluoride concentration in drinking water for prevention of dental caries. Federal Register 76:2383-2388, 2011.
  4. Singh KA and others. Relative effects of pre- and post-eruption water fluoride on caries experience of permanent first molars. Journal of Public Health Dentistry 63:11-19, 2003.
  5. Fluoride and Infant Formula: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). American Dental Association Web site, accessed Feb 4, 2013.
  6. Iida H, Kumar, J. The association between enamel fluorosis and dental caries in U.S. schoolchildren. Journal of the American Dental Association 140:855-862, 2009.
  7. Barrett S., Baratz RS. Dental fluorosis. Dental Watch, Jan 7, 2013.
  8. Choi AL and others. Developmental fluoride neurotoxicity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Environmental Health Perspectives, July 20, 2012,
  9. Nesser U. Rising scores on intelligence tests. American Scientist, Sept-Oct 1997.
  10. Taylor B. Compromise reached in Milwaukee's fluoride debate. Fox6 Now, July 24, 2012.
  11. Ten great public health achievements—United States, 1900-1999. MMWR 48:241-243, 1999.
  12. Hoffer E. The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951). Republished by HarperCollins in 1989.

This article was revised on Aptil 4, 2013.

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