Toxic heavy metals are likely in the food you’re feeding your baby, a shocking new report claims.
Researchers tested 168 baby foods in the US and found that 95 percent of baby foods tested contained one or more metals.
Specifically, 94 percent contained lead, 75 percent had cadmium, 73 percent had arsenic and 32 percent contained mercury.
Among the foods that posed the greatest risk of heavy metal exposure were rice-based foods, carrots, sweet potatoes and fruit juices.
‘Even in the trace amounts found in food, these contaminants can alter the developing brain and erode a child’s IQ,’ read the report, commissioned by Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF).
‘The impacts add up with each meal or snack a baby eats.’
A new report from Healthy Babies Bright Futures found 94 percent of 168 tested babies foods contained lead and 32 percent contained mercury
HBBF describes itself as a group of scientists, organizations, and donors working together to limit children’s exposure to neurotoxins.
For the report, the team tested 168 foods eaten by babies and toddlers including popular brands such as Beech-Nut, Earth’s Best and Gerber.
They tested for four toxic, heavy metals: arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury.
Results showed that one in four baby foods that were tested contained all four metals – and only nine of the 168 contained no metals.
Among the most toxic foods for babies were rice snacks, infant rice cereal, teething biscuits and rice rusks.
‘These popular baby foods are not only high in inorganic arsenic, the most toxic form of arsenic, but also are nearly always contaminated with all four toxic metals,’ the report read.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in the Earth’s crust and can be found in air, food, soil and water.
In its inorganic form and at high levels, arsenic can be extremely toxic, and even deadly.
Previous studies have suggested that babies exposed to low levels of arsenic have poorer cognitive skills than their peers.
A 2004 study from Columbia University in New York on Bangladeshi children found that those who were exposed to arsenic in drinking water didn’t score as well on tests.
Compared to other grains, rice rapidly absorbs arsenic from the soil and water where it’s grown, and it’s often grown in areas like the southern US where arsenic pesticides used to be sprayed.
Root crops, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, also retain more arsenic from the soil, according to the report.
Infant rice cereal is often used as a baby’s first solid because it is mild in flavor, easy to digest and contains iron.
The authors of the report suggested alternatives that contain little to no arsenic such as oatmeal and multigrain cereals.
They also recommended rice-free snacks in place of puff snacks and, rather than rice rusks used for teething, they suggest foods like frozen banana or chilled cucumber.
For fruit juices, which contained arsenic and lead, the team said water and milk were safer choices.
Researchers also called on baby food companies to reduce heavy metals in their products by, for example, sourcing rice from fields with lower arsenic levels in soil.
Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has helped companies reduce levels of metals in their foods, the authors say its still higher than it should be.
‘When FDA acts, companies respond,’ said study author Jane Houlihan, research director for Healthy Babies Better Futures, in a statement to CNN. ‘We need the FDA to use their authority more effectively, and much more quickly, to reduce toxic heavy metals in baby foods.’