Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Dr. Marra, Our Lyme Doc

Dr. Marra has made it possible for both my kids to live normal lives. As I am typing this, my daughter is practicing her dance team choreography. She dances 7 hours a week, and is preparing for a competition. Just a couple years ago, she could not walk longer than one block without triggering a Lyme flare. For her, that meant sudden shin, sole, stomach, and head pain so bad, it stopped her in her tracks. She had to relearn how to ride a bike, run, and do typical gym activities.
Dr. Marra chose to take on her very complex case. Before Dr. Marra, my daughter was home for 2nd grade because she had 26 chronic pain areas, and we almost lost her to a flare-induced seizure when she was 7. It was New Years Eve, and we were in a hotel surrounded by noise makers and drunk people. I have been to hell, and it’s called Lyme, but we are back. The doc that mentored Dr. Marra for years saved her life, and we are forever grateful we have her in our lives to finish the job.
When my son began showing signs of Lyme disease, she put him on a protocol that, a year and a half later, has just one residual symptom of minor facial tics. Dr. Marra prevented the big decline that we didn’t know how to stop with our daughter.
What is it like to see Dr. Marra? First, she interviews me, the mom. It is an intensive interview, which I appreciate. Next, she interviews my child. After that, Dr. Marra performs a thorough Lyme exam, EVERY visit. I am not kidding! I have had docs that never even turn around to look at my daughter sitting on the exam table, and not even look up from note taking. That had left the burden of discovery on me, and I am not a doctor!
Every visit is different, and every visit I learn something new. I appreciate the frequent visits, as I know I am shortening our Lyme time by the personal monitoring we are getting from Dr. Marra. She is available in emergencies and even quick questions. I walk out being thankful I have scrounged up the money to pay for this expensive disease(s). I may be sweating as I write out that fat check, but I am thankful for the bag of gold (supplements/test resulfs) and knowledge I walk out with. I know I am one step closer to a full recovery.
I have never had more personal care from ANY doctor in my life. Amazingly, she KNOWS my kids! I don’t have to reiterate and do a life history each visit. She picks up where we left off, takes their cases, and tinkers sometimes in a minor way, or major way with their protocol. That is the nature of Lyme. These dynamic changes are the reason my kids are doing so well. She sees the big picture, and also the most minute detail, and factors that in to my bi-monthly master plan. Both my kids open up to her and tell her things that I cannot get out of them. They adore her, and find her office to be a very special sanctuary.
Better yet, I appreciate the fact I am not getting a boiler plate protocol. I have two sick kids, and their protocols continue to be extremely different (other than core nutritionals). They do have intensity and variety in common.
Dr. Marra is one of the brightest people I have ever met. Scary bright. She embraces her calling with enthusiasm and no B.S. I am sure there are plenty of other ways she could be using that science brain of hers. But, she has chosen one of the hardest specialties there are, a political/orphan disease with no cure. I mean hello, I would run as fast as I could and hide under a rock. She has chosen to help us, when western medicine has turned away from us.
I can see how some people can be turned off by her direct approach. She tells it like it is, and knows her stuff, which I prefer. I don’t care for the hand-holding/babysitting style, but hey that is me. I am busy dealing with 3 people with Chronic Lyme, I drive from 3 hours away, so I am in no mood for dancing around.
I know it’s not for everyone to be accountable for their wellness, and just wants a doc to take over and fix it. For those that get better, I have observed the following characteristic: It’s a team effort by everyone involved. Patient, doctor, family/community. After all, there is no cure for this disease.
And speaking of teaching, from what I have observed, she attends or speaks at all of the major seminars - Lyme, and other health related conferences.
She is extremely well connected because of her east coast roots. Given the type of disease this is, it is more important than ever to tap in to your doc community, just as it is for us parents to turn to other parents for support and advice.
I found Dr. Marra through word-of-mouth back in CT, ground zero for Chronic Lyme Disease. Two years ago, my family and I were fleeing the war zone for a safer life for my children. I knew that moving to the NW was possible - an east coast doc with a “pedigree” that no other doc could match.
My daughter had done very well with the cutting edge docs that are at the forefront of research and treatment guidelines back in the trenches. The top dogs. These guys trained Dr. Marra. She was mentored by them, and watched them work. I felt like I had won the lottery having access to the caliber of these east coast docs, but right here in the NW.

We look forward to walking the walk with Dr. Marra's guidance for as long as it takes.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Autism's Puzzle: Decoding An Epidemic

A great article summarizing the latest thinking into the environmental causes of autism. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Pam. She is an amazing person. She has saved her entire family from Lyme disease and their co-infections. She is a brilliant researcher and author. Her book, Cure Unknown, saved my daughter from Chronic Lyme Disease. It had all the information I needed to understand the disease, the politics, and where to look for help.

The magazine, Experience Life, is a really good one. I highly recommend taking a look.

Autism's Puzzle; Decoding an Epidemic, by Pamela Weintraub.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Autoimmunity: autism, pandas, vaccines

Here is another fantastic article from the Age Of Autism.

Between my two children, we have dealt with food allergies, environmental allergies, asthma, pandas, chronic lyme disease and co-infections, and let's not forget - autism. And here I sit as one of the "lucky" ones. A parent that has had some success with treatments. For the majority out there, not the case.

So depressing, but had to post!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

HFA: Advice From A Mom, From Diagnosis To Recovery Book

The book price is $15. Shipping and handling is $5 inside the U.S.A. Order online with PayPal or Google Checkout. For checks sent by mail, email me at Busterfoofoo@gmail.com for address. For international orders, email me at Busterfoofoo@gmail.com for your country's shipping and payment link. Thanks!

Front and Back Cover

Sunday, May 08, 2011

My New Book Coming Soon

Hi everyone. I am beyond excited that I am close to finishing my book. It's been a journey. I started collecting answers to questions that parents have asked me over the years. I've worked on it now and then. When my daughter got sick I stopped everything. But, now that she is out of the woods I picked it up again and am almost done.

My hope is that our experience will helps others. Here is a peak at the Table Of Contents for your review. Feel free to tell me what you think. I will let you know when it's ready for purchase!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Telling Leo About his Autism Label

I have gone over in my mind a thousand times what I would say. What came out of my mouth was pretty close to that. It went really well! But first, here's the backstory.

My husband and I made the decision to wait until Leo asked if their was a name for his issues, or if it seemed he needed to know for some reason. I anticipated the topic would come up when he noticed a classmate with Down Syndrome looked like his cousin. Leo could relate to all the therapies and issues his cousin had. His cousin’s issues had a name, did his as well? But, he didn’t ask.

We wanted Leo to be in a good place and to be able to handle any reservations he may have once he learned of the label. He knew all about discrimination, comparing it to racial issues. He also witnessed classmates making fun of children with special needs. “Andrea only wants to play baby games. It’s so annoying!” they said one day. He associated himself with those children, but instinct told him to not share that he once had the same issues too.

In my mind, I wanted him to know by middle or high school. We didn’t anticipate any reservations -- he doesn’t read the media or hear discriminatory remarks using the word autism -- yet. Knowing beforehand and building upon that seemed ideal.

He has always been comfortable with the fact that he grew up as a “Help Needed” child, the term they used in elementary school. He remembers most of his therapists and some of his “special” interests and behaviors, like stimming on wheels and buses.

Like a child that is adopted, we knew this conversation would take place many times over the years, in layers that were age appropriate.

So here is what happened! The kids and I were invited to speak at a Lyme seminar. Leo was very excited about this -- he loves to talk in front of people. I thought about it, and realized that we couldn’t do it because our privacy would be at risk. The seminar was nearby. Not everyone is thrilled with the content of my blogs, which is one of the reasons why I have used an alias. So, I realized I needed to tell him why.

On our way pick up a few things at a convenience store. I park, and we sit and talk in the parking lot in front of the building.

Mom: “So Leo, I decided that we can’t do that Lyme seminar.”

Leo: “Why not?”

Mom: “Well, I realized that there is one thing you don’t know about yourself. Something about when you had all those problems as a little guy.”

Leo:”Okay, what?”

Mom: “Well, all of your problems actually have a name. You had an Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s a category of behaviors, learning and health problems.” There are many different kinds, and you had the one called Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). It is a mild version.

Leo: “So like how my Lyme is milder and different than Sydney’s?”

Mom: “Right. Your friends like Joey have Autism, and some of your other friends like Nate have the same kind like you, PDD.

Because of all your hard work, you were able to get better and not have it anymore. You are still the same person, just wired differently. Some things remain easier and harder for you. For example, drawing and visual/spacial stuff is challenging for you even though you have tested average for those. Sometimes it takes you a little longer to notice inferences. You have always known that about yourself, right? You remember your Helper at school, all the speech you had, and the Helpers that played with you at our old house?”

Leo: “Yeah, yeah. Of course I remember. But I was really smart, right?”

Mom: “Absolutely, and you still are. Your brain is unique and because of that you have incredible skills, like your memory and how good you are at math. That is why Yale asked you back, so they could learn from you. You are like a rock star to them. That’s what they do, they study these Autism Spectrum Disorders since it’s now an epidemic. Very few kids recover like you have.

Leo:”Wow. So cool!”

Mom: “So, because people discriminate, we only share the name with certain people we can trust.

Leo:”Like Harrison (our neighbor) doesn’t tell everyone about his ADHD and Dyslexia?”

Mom:”Right. For the same reasons. Autism is even harder to understand, so people have a bad stereotype of it in their minds. I’ve studied it over the years, so I have become an expert in a way. I help people on my website, and as you know I am writing a book about what happened with you. People have been inspired by your recovery and have learned from our experience.”

Leo: “So, the book is ONLY about me, and not Sydney? Awesome! So, am I like, famous?”

Mom: “Kind of, I guess. In a way, to a group of moms with kids that have an autism spectrum disorder. Don’t use the book against your sister, okay? She is in the book a little bit. I have learned a lot from her too. We both have.”

Leo:”Look! A cheese special (he points at a sign on the window for a sale).”

Mom:”Cool. So do you have any questions?”

Leo:”Mom, it’s just a word.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rage and Chronic Infections

I can't help but think that this little boy I saw on Oprah has multiple chronic infections. His red ears and tics furthered my interest.

Rage and violence is commonly seen as a symptom of Lyme Disease and the co-infections, particularly Bartonella. Many undiagnosed people end up in mental institutions. Some end up on antibiotics that kill the infection, and the symptoms disappear. Any Google search will provide more info for those interested.

My heart goes out to this family and this little boy. He is amazing and tries so hard to just get through the interview. I can't imagine what a day is like for him. My hope is the family has looked into treating chronic infections as a way to return their little boy to them.

I recommend a Lyme-literate medical doctor for screening since the current testing available is tenuous. Lyme doctors address the big picture - strep, viruses, not just the Lyme bacteria and co-infections.

Getting Shingles More Than Once

This kind of article should make me happy. All it does is remind me how far behind the medical community is in understanding chronic illness, and the cause and effect of modern living to the immune system. And most frustrating, how doctors do not believe their patients.

Or parents when they say vaccines triggered autism.

Having shingles can be a miserable experience. Now, to make matters worse, the long-held notion that people can only get shingles once in their lives appears to be false, according to a study in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings this month.

It's estimated that 1 in 3 Americans will get shingles at some point, with one million new cases reported a year in the U.S. It typically starts with itching, tingling or numbness, then develops into a painful rash that blisters. It often hits people who are elderly or already suffering from another illness or trauma, and the residual nerve pain can last for months.

The incidence rate has been rising around the world, in all age groups, though it isn't clear why, says Rafael Harpaz, a medical epidemiologist in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's division of viral diseases. More than half of cases occur in people over age 60, when the risk of complications also rises steeply. Women are slightly more likely to contract shingles than men.

Science Photo Library/Custom Medical Stock Photo

Shingles rash

Shingles 101

1 in 3 Americans will have it in their lifetimes.

There are one million new cases a year.

It only strikes people who have had chicken pox

Risks and complications rise with age.

Symptoms include blistery rash, nerve pain.

Can cause vision and hearing damage.

Vaccine cuts risk by about half.

Source: CDC

The CDC has urged all Americans age 60 and older to get the shingles vaccine—whether they've had shingles or not. But supplies of the vaccine are on back order in some areas. Merck & Co., the only company that makes it, has encountered frequent supply problems since the vaccine was approved in 2006.

Shingles is caused by the Varicella zoster virus, or VZV, the same virus that causes chicken pox, and it only strikes people who have had chicken pox in the past. Like other herpes viruses, VZV never fully leaves peoples' bodies. It can lie dormant for decades in the nerve roots in the spinal column, until it suddenly replicates and travels down the nerves to cause shingles. This frequently creates a striped rash that follows the pattern of nerves on the back or chest.

Exactly what prompts the virus to wake up is unknown, but it seems to occur when the immune system, which has kept it in check for years, becomes weakened due to age, illness or treatments such as chemotherapy. Emotional stress can cause recurrences of other herpes viruses, and the CDC is investigating whether it can spark shingles as well.

For the new study on shingles recurrence, researchers at the Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., examined medical records of nearly 1,700 patients who had a documented case of shingles between 1996 and 2001. They found that more than 5% of them were treated for a second episode within an average of eight years—about the same rate as would typically experience a first case.

That a recurrence is so common is more of a surprise to virologists and other scientists than primary-care physicians, who have seen it in their practices, says Barbara Yawn, director of research at the Olmsted center and the study's lead author. "I've gotten calls and emails from some saying, 'Thank you. Now they will believe us.'"

The Olmsted researchers found the people most likely to have a recurrence were patients whose pain had lasted more than 30 days with their first shingles episode.

It's possible that some subgroups of the virus are more prone to recurrence, says Dr. Yawn. In their next study, her team is monitoring new episodes of shingles and the CDC will analyze samples of those that recur to look for genetic patterns. The earlier studies were funded in part by Merck and the National Institutes of Health, while the new study is funded by the CDC.

Some shingles cases are mild, causing only a minor rash. But some patients develop sharp, stabbing nerve pain that can make the affected area extremely sensitive. "Sometimes people say they can't stand to have anything touch the rash area, even clothes," Dr. Yawn says.

In some cases, the nerve pain is the only symptom for days. Patients have been hospitalized with what was thought to be heart disease or appendicitis until the telltale shingles rash appeared. "Sometimes the rash never develops—that really confuses doctors," says the CDC's Dr. Harpaz.

Nerve pain that lingers for more than a month is called postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN, and it can last for years in some patients. While antiviral medications can shorten the duration and severity of shingles episodes, PHN is harder to treat. Some patients get limited relief from opiates, antiseizure medications and antidepressants, but many elderly people can't tolerate the side effects.

In rare cases, shingles has other serious consequences. Blisters can become infected. A rash on the face can spread shingles into eyes, which can lead to loss of vision, sometimes permanent. A rash around the ear can cause a complication known as Ramsey Hunt syndrome, which can include deafness and weakness of the facial muscles.

A big unknown is whether people who got the chicken-pox vaccine as children will be susceptible to shingles in later years or protected from it—or even vulnerable to full-blown chicken pox if their immunity has weakened. Since the chicken-pox vaccine was only approved in 1996, it will be several decades before the first generation of Americans to be widely vaccinated reaches the typical shingles years.

"It's quite plausible that rates will come down dramatically as those kids become older adults," says Dr. Harpaz, though he notes that some people who got the chicken-pox vaccine may unknowingly harbor the actual virus because the vaccine doesn't prevent 100% of cases, and some people may have had a mild, unnoticeable case before they were vaccinated.

The shingles vaccine, known as Zostavax, doesn't eliminate all cases. Studies show that it cuts the risk of shingles by about half in people over age 60. The cases that do occur in vaccinated people tend to be milder.

If it's possible to get shingles more than once, why does a vaccine work at all? Eddy Bresnitz, Merck's medical director for adult vaccines, says that unlike most vaccines, which prime a person's immune system to ward off a virus the first time it invades, Zostavax boosts the immune system's ability to keep the preexisting herpes infection in check, even though it never fully disappears.

To date, less than 11% of Americans over age 60 have had the shingles vaccine, partly because the shortages have frustrated public-awareness efforts and partly because of cost. Zostavax, which ranges from $140 to $400, is one of the most expensive of adult vaccines, and only some Medicare Part D plans cover it.

Dr. Bresnitz says Merck is building a new plant in North Carolina and expects to have more Zostavax available in coming years. It uses the same raw materials as the chicken-pox vaccine for children, to which Merck gives first priority. People can check for local availability of the vaccine at www.Zostavax.com. Side effects are usually limited to mild irritation and tenderness around the injection site.

Public-health experts urge Americans over 60 not to wait until they are very old or ailing to get the vaccine. Once people have compromised immune systems, they are no longer eligible, due to the risk that the vaccine could cause shingles rather than prevent it.

Monday, January 31, 2011

9 Questions for Pro-Vaccine Advocates and Their Claims

This article has been around for a while, think it's a good reminder of the hard decisions we make. Click here for the source of article from PreventDisease.com:

Since the flu pandemic was declared, there have been several so-called "vaccine experts" coming out of the wood work attempting to justify the effectiveness of vaccines. All of them parrot the same ridiculous historical and pseudoscientific perspectives of vaccinations which are easily squelched with the following 9 questions.

Claim: The study of vaccines, their historical record of achievements, effectiveness, safety and mechanism in humans are well understood and proven in scientific and medical circles.

Fact: The claim is completely false.

1. What to ask: Could you please provide one double-blind, placebo-controlled study that can prove the safety and effectiveness of vaccines?

2. What to ask: Could you please provide scientific evidence on ANY study which can confirm the long-term safety and effectiveness of vaccines?

3. What to ask: Could you please provide scientific evidence which can prove that disease reduction in any part of the world, at any point in history was attributable to inoculation of populations?

4. What to ask: Could you please explain how the safety and mechanism of vaccines in the human body are scientifically proven if their pharmacokinetics (the study of bodily absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of ingredients) are never examined
or analyzed in any vaccine study?

One of the most critical elements which defines the toxicity potential of any vaccine are its pharmacokinetic properties. Drug companies and health agencies refuse to consider the study, analysis or evaluation of the pharmacokinetic properties of any vaccine.

There is not one double-blind, placebo-controlled study in the history of vaccine development that has ever proven their safety, effectiveness or achievements (unless those achievements have underlined their damage to human health).

There are also no controlled studies completed in any country which have objectively proven that vaccines have had any direct or consequential effect on the reduction of any type of disease in any
part of the world.

Every single study that has ever attempted to validate the safety and effectiveness of vaccines has conclusively established carcinogenic, mutagenic, neurotoxic or fertility impairments, but they won't address those.


Claim: Preservatives and chemical additives used in the manufacture of vaccines are safe and no studies have been linked or proven them unsafe for use in humans.

Fact: The claim is completely false.

5. What to ask: Could you please provide scientific justification as to how injecting a human being with a confirmed neurotoxin is beneficial to human health and prevents disease?

6. What to ask: Can you provide a risk/benefit profile on how the benefits of injecting a known neurotoxin exceeds its risks to human health for the intended goal of preventing disease?

This issue is no longer even open to debate. It is a scientifically established fact in literally hundreds of studies that the preservatives and chemical additives in vaccines damage cells. Neurotoxicity, immune suppression, immune-mediated chronic inflammation and carcinogenic proliferation are just a few of several effects that have been observed on the human body. See a list of chemicals in vaccines

Fortunately, the drug companies still tell us the damage vaccines have on the human body. People just don't read them. All you have to do is look at the insert for any vaccine, and it will detail the exactingredients, alerts and potentially lethal effects.

See my latest analysis of the Arepanrix H1N1 vaccine for an example.

Any medical professional who believes that it is justified to inject any type of neurotoxin into any person to prevent any disease is completely misguided, misinformed, deluded and ignorant of any logic regarding human health.


Claim: Once an individual is injected with the foreign antigen in the vaccine, that individual becomes immune to future infections.

Fact: The claim is completely false.

7. What to ask: Could you please provide scientific justification on how bypassing the respiratory tract (or mucous membrane) is advantageous and how directly injecting viruses into the bloodstream enhances immune functioning and prevents future infections?

8. What to ask: Could you please provide scientific justification on how a vaccine would prevent viruses from mutating?

9. What to ask: Could you please provide scientific justification as to how a vaccination can target a virus in an infected individual who does not have the exact viral configuration or strain the vaccine was developed for?

All promoters of vaccination fail to realize that the respiratory tract of humans (actually all mammals) contains antibodies which initiates natural immune responses within the respiratory tract mucosa. Bypassing this mucosal aspect of the immune system by directly injecting viruses into the bloodstream leads to a corruption in the immune system itself. As a result, the pathogenic viruses or bacteria cannot be eliminated by the immune system and remain in the body, where they will further grow and/or mutate as the individual is exposed to ever more antigens and toxins in the environment which continue to assault the immune system.

Despite the injection of any type of vaccine, viruses continue circulating through the body, mutating and transforming into other organisms. The ability of a vaccine manufacturer to target the exact viral strain without knowing its mutagenic properties is equivalent to shooting a gun at a fixed target that has already been moved from its location. You would be shooting at what was, not what is!

Flu viruses, may mutate, change or adapt several times over a period of one flu season, making the seasonal influenza vaccine 100% redundant and ineffective every single flu season. Ironically, the natural immune defenses of the human body can target these changes but the vaccines cannot.

I have never encountered one pro-vaccine advocate, whether medically or scientifically qualified, who could answer even 1 let alone all 9 of these questions. One or all of the following will happen when debating any of the above questions:

- They will concede defeat and admit they are stumped

- They will attempt to discredit unrelated issues that do not pertain to the question.

- They will formulate their response and rebuttal based on historical arguments and scientific studies which have been disproved over and over again.

Not one pro-vaccine advocate will ever directly address these questions in an open mainstream venue.

Flu Vaccine Exposed: Think Twice!

Dave Mihalovic is a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in vaccine research, cancer prevention and a natural approach to treatment.

* A full list of h1n1 vaccine ingredients, alerts and warnings.

Reference Sources: http://preventdisease.com/news/09/062909_wmds.shtml
October 28, 2009

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Favorite Snack Mix

Had to share what has been working for MONTHS now. I have put together a great snack for school that both my kids have not gotten tired of! So I figured I should share since us moms need all the ideas we can get. It covers all the food groups to maximize nutrition and also regulate blood sugar. Here goes:

2 handfuls of GF pretzels (carb)
1 tablespoon Eden organic shelled pistacios (protein)
1 tablespoon of GFCF mini-chocolate chips (antioxidant but also good for motivation to eat)
1 small carrot (fiber, something alive)

So there you go! I also use shelled sunflower seeds for nut-free classrooms, and use different veggies like celery, a few sprigs of parsley or cilantro (can't beat how lovely the fragrance is). I also do the Trader Joes rice crackers instead of pretzels.

Here's to not the same 'ole! Ashley

Friday, January 07, 2011

Finally! Government Looking Into Fluoride

AP EXCLUSIVE: US says too much fluoride in water

ATLANTA – Fluoride in drinking water — credited with dramatically cutting cavities and tooth decay — may now be too much of a good thing. Getting too much of it causes spots on some kids' teeth.

A reported increase in the spotting problem is one reason the federal government will announce Friday it plans to lower the recommended levels for fluoride in water supplies — the first such change in nearly 50 years.

About 2 out of 5 adolescents have tooth streaking or spottiness because of too much fluoride, a surprising government study found recently. In some extreme cases, teeth can even be pitted by the mineral — though many cases are so mild only dentists notice it.

Health officials note that most communities have fluoride in their water supplies, and toothpaste has it too. Some kids are even given fluoride supplements.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is announcing a proposal to change the recommended fluoride level to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water. And the Environmental Protection Agency will review whether the maximum cutoff of 4 milligrams per liter is too high.

The standard since 1962 has been a range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the splotchy tooth condition, fluorosis, is unexpectedly common in kids ages 12 through 15. And it appears to have grown much more common since the 1980s.

"One of the things that we're most concerned about is exactly that," said an administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly before the release of the report. The official described the government's plans in an interview with The Associated Press.

The government also is expected to release two related EPA studies which look at the ways Americans are exposed to fluoride and the potential health effects. This shift is sure to re-energize groups that still oppose it.

Fluoride is a mineral that exists naturally in water and soil. About 70 years ago, scientists discovered that people who lived where water supplies naturally had more fluoride also had fewer cavities. Some locales have naturally occurring fluoridation levels above 1.2. Today, most public drinking water supplies are fluoridated, especially in larger cities. Counting everyone, including those who live in rural areas, about 64 percent of Americans drink fluoridated water.

Maryland is the most fluoridated state, with nearly every resident on a fluoridated water system. In contrast, only about 11 percent of Hawaii residents are on fluoridated water, according to government statistics.

Fluoridation has been fought for decades by people who worried about its effects, including conspiracy theorists who feared it was a plot to make people submissive to government power.

Those battles continue.

"It's amazing that people have been so convinced that this is an OK thing to do," said Deborah Catrow, who successfully fought a ballot proposal in 2005 that would have added fluoride to drinking water in Springfield, Ohio.

Reducing fluoride would be a good start, but she hopes it will be eliminated all together from municipal water supplies.

Voters in Springfield, which is near Dayton, turned down the measure 57 to 43 percent in 2005. They also rejected the idea in the 1970s.

Catrow said it was hard standing up to city hall, the American Dental Association and the state health department. "Anybody who was anti-fluoride was considered crazy at the time," she said.

Drinking water patterns have changed over the years, so that some stark regional differences in fluoride consumption are leveling out. There was initially a range in recommended levels because people in hotter climates drank more water. But with air conditioning, Americans in the South and Southwest don't necessarily consume more water than those in colder states, said one senior administration official.

Fluorosis is considered the main downside related to fluoridation.

According to the CDC, nearly 23 percent of children ages 12-15 had fluorosis in a study done in 1986 and 1987. That rose to 41 percent in the more recent study, which covered the years 1999 through 2004.

"We're not necessarily surprised to see this slow rise in mild fluorosis," Dr. William Kohn, director of the CDC's division of oral health, said in a recent interview.

Health officials have hesitated to call it a problem, however. In most kids, it's barely noticeable; even dentists have trouble seeing it, and sometimes don't bother to tell their unknowing patients. Except in the most severe cases, health officials considered the discoloring of fluorosis to be a welcome trade-off for the protection fluoride provides against cavities.

Generally, the prevalence of tooth decay in at least one tooth among U.S. teens has declined from about 90 percent to 60 percent. Health officials call water fluoridation one of the ten greatest public health accomplishments of the last century.

"One of water fluoridation's biggest advantages is that it benefits all residents of a community — at home, work, school, or play. And fluoridation's effectiveness in preventing tooth decay is not limited to children, but extends throughout life, resulting in improved oral health," said HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh, in a statement.

The government is not suggesting people change their brushing or other tooth-care habits.

The American Dental Association on Friday morning released a statement applauding the government announcement.

"This is a superb example of a government agency fulfilling its mission to protect and enhance the health of the American people," said ADA President Dr. Raymond F. Gist, DDS.

Indeed, many health leaders continue to be worried about cavities, particularly among poor families with kids who eat a lot of sweets but don't get much dental care. The American Public Health Association in November adopted a resolution calling for coordinated programs to be established at public health, dental and medical clinics to offer fluoride varnish — a highly concentrated lacquer painted on teeth to prevent cavities.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could make a final decision within a few months, the administration official said.

There is no fluoride in most European water supplies. In Britain, only about 10 percent of the population has water with fluoride in it. It's been a controversial issue there, with critics arguing people shouldn't be forced to have "medical treatment" forced on them. In recent years, the UK has tried to add fluoride to communities with the worst dental health but there's still considerable opposition.

Some European nations used to add fluoride to water supplies but have stopped. Some countries add it to salt instead.


Associated press writers Maria Cheng in London and John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report.