There’s a strong chance your baby’s food contains traces of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic and lead, according to a new study.
The research, commissioned by Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) and outlined in a report released Thursday, tested 168 baby foods for the presence of four heavy metals: arsenic, lead, mercury and cadmium. They found that 95 percent of the baby foods were contaminated by at least one of the heavy metals, and one in four of the baby foods tested contained all four of the heavy metals. Only nine of the 168 baby foods tested were not found to contain traces of any of the four metals.
Among the highest-risk foods are fruit juices, as well as rice-based products, including puff snacks and rice cereals, since rice is particularly effective at absorbing arsenic, a common pesticide, as it grows. Four of seven infant rice cereals tested contained inorganic arsenic, which is the more toxic form of the metal, in levels exceeding the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed limit of 100 parts per billion.
Sweet potatoes and carrots are also big culprits since they are root crops. The foods tested spanned 61 brands and 13 types of food, including infant formula, teething biscuits, cereals and fruit juices. They were primarily selected by parents who volunteered with HBBF’s partner organizations. The parents were asked to buy foods from the most prevalent baby food brands at their local stores. Additional foods were purchased online. Exposure to these heavy metals can result in lower IQs, for example. A data analysis also commissioned by HBBF showed that American children ages 0 to 24 months have already lost more than 11 million IQ points from exposure to arsenic and lead in food. Fifteen foods account for more than half of this IQ loss, with rice-based foods alone making up 20 percent of it.