Almost 100 Percent of Baby Foods Tested Contain Neurotoxins Including Lead, Arsenic: Study

A recent study conducted by says that 168 brands of baby food include toxic heavy metals which might damage a baby's cognitive development, says CNN.

The study tested 168 brands of American-made baby food, and found that 95 percent of the sampled jars contain lead, 73 percent of them included arsenic, 75 percent had cadmium and 32 percent included mercury. A fourth of them contained all four heavy metals in the same sampled jars.

One in five of the samples contained over 10 times the legally mandated amount of lead as recommended by health experts. While they agree that no level of lead in food is safe, a 1-ppb limit is endorsed by most public health experts.

This matched the results reached by an FDA study current as of May 2019, which found one or more of the above listed types of metal in 33 out of 39 tested brands of food.

Previous studies focusing on the neurodevelopment of children exposed to low levels of arsenic showed that such exposures can be catastrophic to children's development. A 2004 study that looked into the cognitive development of Bangladeshi children who were exposed to arsenic-tainted drinking water showed that they scored significantly lower in intellectual testing.

According to the report, the foods which contained the highest risk of harm were rice-based products, fruit-juice based products or sweet potato-inclusive snacks.

babies, eating
A recent study has uncovered high levels of heavy metal in a high variety of American baby foods. NataliaDeriabina/Getty

"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 reads.

Rice, which is grown in paddies of water, is more likely to absorb inorganic (the most dangerous sort) of arsenic, with brown and wild rice, which doesn't have its outer shelling removed during processing, ranking higher in toxicity than its white form.

"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," said the report.

Parents are urged to give their children a variety of foods, replacing rice-based foods with wholegrain alternatives, pediatrician Tanya Altmann told CNN.

"Best first foods for infants are avocado, pureed veggies, peanut-butter oatmeal and salmon," Altmann said. "They all provide important nutrients that babies need, help develop their taste buds to prefer healthy food and may decrease food allergies."

Since she believes meat is a better source for iron and zinc than rice, "I haven't been recommending rice cereal as a first food for several years," she said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that parents replace teething biscuits and cookies with frozen bananas or cucumbers (cleaned and peeled), dropping fruit juice for water or milk depending on the age of the child and pediatric advice, and spacing out sweet potatoes and carrots to avoid exposing children to high levels of cadmium or lead.

The study was commissioned by Healthy Babies Bright Futures, an organization that says it is an alliance of scientists, nonprofit organizations and donors united in the goal of reducing children's exposures to neurotoxic chemicals during the first months of their lives.

"When FDA acts, companies respond. We need the FDA to use their authority more effectively, and much more quickly, to reduce toxic heavy metals in baby foods," said study author Jane Houlihan, research director for Healthy Babies Better Futures, in a statement.

The study was created in partnership with Campaign for Healthier Solutions, ACAT, Coming Clean, Ecology Center, Environmental Justice Health Alliance, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Lideres Campesinas and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services.