Dr Edgar Borrow, a farmer and agricultural engineer in Hampshire, England, became interested in fluoridation during the 1960s when serving on local and regional councils. Having seen efforts to introduce water fluoridation continually opposed and been convinced of the need to improve the oral health of children, Dr Borrow began to explore the possibilities of fluoridating milk. He was interested to discover that some research had already been conducted in this field and that the effectiveness of fluoridated milk for the prevention of dental decay had first been demonstrated in the 1950s. Further studies in the 1960s also yielded positive results. The findings of this early research greatly encouraged Dr Borrow and led to a great act of philanthropy, when in 1971 he established The Borrow Foundation (initially as The Borrow Dental Milk Foundation). Dr Borrow dedicated the last two decades of his life to the charity’s cause.
During the early years the Foundation's resources were primarily applied to addressing the technical aspects of fluoridated milk and to supporting research designed to strengthen further the scientific basis for its use as a dental public health measure. As a result of this work, interest in milk fluoridation grew.
First community-based milk fluoridation programme
By the mid-1980s the Foundation's priority had become the development of programmes designed to demonstrate the viability and feasibility of using fluoridated milk as a dental public health measure. The first community-based milk fluoridation programme was implemented in 1988, in Bulgaria. It was most fitting that this major breakthrough was achieved during Dr Borrow's lifetime; he passed away in 1990.
Expansion and growth
In the early 1990s the experience gained from the successful implementation of the programme in Bulgaria was applied to the development of similar interventions in a number of other countries.
Although some schemes have ceased, the overall number of children consuming fluoridated milk has continued to grow. Most notable, to date, among the programmes that have been well sustained and expanded are those in Chile and Thailand.
Research into milk fluoridation has also been greatly extended; there is now a substantial body of work carried out in this field and the large majority of these studies have been funded by the Foundation.
Whilst milk fluoridation remains a priority for the charity, in recent years our support for the wider areas of the prevention of dental disease has expanded and continues to grow. We have extended our support for other organisations that promote dental public health and oral health research and, more recently, established a programme that aims to facilitate the development of population-based prevention programmes for the prevention of dental disease.