To describe bottled, filtered, and tap water consumption and fluoride use among pediatric patients; to analyze differences between ethnic and socioeconomic groups; and to describe the frequency of physician-parent discussions regarding water consumption.
Convenience sample survey.
An urban public health clinic.
Parents attending a public health clinic.
The primary outcome measure was the prevalence of tap, filtered, and bottled water use. The secondary outcome measures were supplemental fluoride use and the percentage of patients reporting discussions of water consumption with their physician.
A total of 216 parents (80.5% Latino and 19.5% non-Latino) completed the survey. Of the parents, 30.1% never drank tap water and 41.2% never gave it to their children. Latino parents were less likely than non-Latino parents to drink tap water (odds ratio, 0.26; 95% confidence interval, 0.10-0.67) and less likely to give tap water to their children (odds ratio, 0.32; 95% confidence interval, 0.15-0.70). More Latinos believed that tap water would make them sick (odds ratio, 5.63; 95% confidence interval, 2.17-14.54). Approximately 40% of children who never drank tap water were not receiving fluoride supplements. Of the lowest-income families (≤$14 999 per year), 64.9% always gave bottled (32.9%) or filtered (32.0%) water to their children. Of the parents surveyed, 82.5% reported that their child's physician had never discussed the type of water they should use.
Many Latino families avoid drinking tap water because they fear it causes illness. Unnecessary use of bottled and filtered water is costly and may result in adverse dental health outcomes. Physicians should provide guidance to families regarding the safety, low cost, and dental health benefits of drinking tap water.