A new study has found toxic metals in nearly all brands of baby food that were tested. These toxic metals can be damaging to a baby’s brain development. Even the littlest amount can be dangerous.
Healthy Babies Bright Futures, an organization that calls itself “an alliance of nonprofit organizations, scientists and donors” that are trying to “reduce babies’ exposures to toxic chemicals in the first 1,000 days of development” executed the study. They tested containers from 168 types of baby food from 61 brands to levels of four different toxic heavy metals: cadmium, lead, arsenic and mercury.
The tests found that 94% of containers tested positive for lead. 73% tested positive for arsenic, 75% tested positive for cadmium and 32% tested positive for mercury. 26% of containers tested contained all four metals.
25 of the foods tested were sent to a separate lab for further analysis. The lab found perchlorate, another neurotoxin, which disrupts thyroid functions crucial to brain development and has been linked to IQ loss among children born to mothers with thyroid dysfunction, according to the study.
“Even in the trace amounts found in food, these contaminants can alter the developing brain and erode a child’s IQ. The impacts add up with each meal or snack a baby eats,” the report said.
The study emphasized that the amount of a contaminant was not the main concern. The tests showed most metals were found at low levels in the foods tested. However, since babies are exposed to the metals multiple times everyday, the impacts add up.
Rice-based products, fruit juices and sweet potatoes had the highest risk of containing toxic heavy metals, according to the study. It is recommended that parents purchase rice-free baby snacks and infant cereals to reduce their child’s exposure. The study also recommended tap water for children instead of fruit juice. Levels of arsenic in fruit juice weren’t as high as in other foods, but toddlers drink juice often, which makes juices a top source of heavy metal exposure. Instead of carrot or sweet potato-based baby foods, the study recommends purchasing baby foods made of other fruits and vegetables.
The study asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and major baby food companies to take action to reduce the levels of these toxic metals in baby food. The study suggested companies source rice from fields with lower arsenic levels in the soil and blending it with lower arsenic grains in multigrain products.
The study also urged the FDA to establish and finalize health standards for heavy metals in food, in addition to establishing a proactive testing program.
Click here to read the full study.
Click here to learn more about Healthy Babies Bright Futures.