A Consumer Reports recently discovered that heavy metals can be found in popular baby food brands. These heavy metals include lead, mercury, cadmium and inorganic arsenic. Metals being ingested can be dangerous, because it is absorbed by your body and it stays in your system longer than you’d think.
If your child has consumed contaminated baby food, the immediate effects could be minimal. Long-term exposure to these products however, could cause many problems including developmental issues, bladder, lung, and skin cancer. These metals have been found in popular baby food brands such as Beech-Nut, Gerber & Earth’s Best. Products such as cereals, prepared entrees, and packaged fruits and vegetables were some of the items found to contain heavy metals.
According to Consumer Reports, children in the U.S. eat quite a bit of packaged baby food. More than 90 percent of parents with children three and under use these foods. Here are some of the specific findings from the report:
· Each product tested had measurable amounts of heavy metals.
· Roughly 2/3 had concerning levels of heavy metals.
· Fifteen of the food items tested pose potential health risks to a child eating these regularly.
· Snacks with rice or sweet potatoes contained the heaviest metals.
· Organic foods were just as likely to contain heavy metals.
While the human body needs some heavy metals to function properly, such as iron and zinc, other metals such as cadmium, inorganic arsenic, lead and mercury can be toxic for everyone but especially dangerous to young children. Exposures to these metals at a young age can lead to several health issues, including a lower IQ, behavior problems, and even autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Making changes to your child’s diet can help reduce the exposure to heavy metals. Here are some ways to do this:
· Limit how much infant rice cereal your child consumes. Instead opt for other cereals that have iron such as oats that are lower in inorganic arsenic.
· Be cautious of how you prep your rice! The FDA recommends 6 to 10 parts water to 1-part rice and draining the excess water. This can reduce 40 to 60 percent of the inorganic arsenic content, depending on the type of rice.
· Limit packaged snacks because many contain rice flour or have very little nutritional value. Instead choose foods such as avocadoes, bananas, beans, cheese, applesauce, grapes, hard-boiled eggs, peaches, strawberries, and yogurt.
· When choosing fish, stay away from swordfish, bigeye tuna, shark, king mackerel and orange roughy as these are high in methylmercury.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding heavy metals, please do not hesitate to contact the Texas Poison Center Network 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222.