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The highest levels of heavy mentals have been found in foods with rice or tubers.
Photo: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels
Inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury are toxic heavy metals. These metals can be found in commercial brand baby foods at levels above what the federal government considers safe for children, according to a recent congressional report dated February 4, 2021.
This report was requested after it was discovered in 2019 that of 168 baby food products, 95% contained at least one heavy metal. The highest levels were in foods with rice or tubers, such as carrots and sweet potatoes; although they were not the only products.
How Dangerous Are Heavy Metals For Babies?
Metals are dangerous to human health, especially infants and children, even low levels of exposure can cause brain damage.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shares that exposure to heavy metals has been linked to learning, cognition and behavior problems.
The bodies of young children are smaller than those of adults and metals such as lead cannot be stored so easily in the bones, this causes higher concentrations in the blood.
Young brains develop faster and therefore have a greater risk of neurological damage, explains in The Conversation, C, Michael White, professor and director of the Department of Pharmaceutical Practice at the University of Connecticut.
Blood lead concentration has been associated with significant neurological problems, including the development of behavior problems such as aggression and attention deficit disorder. Arsenic can affect all organs, among its most serious effects is cancer.
How do heavy metals get into baby food?
Metals are naturally found in the earth’s crust. They are also released into the environment as pollution and get into the water and soil that is used to grow food. Metals can also enter food from food manufacturing and packaging.
How to reduce the baby’s exposure to heavy metals?
Avoid fruit juices. Some fruit juices can contain worrying levels of heavy metals, states the AAP.
Minimize the use of rice-based products, including rice cereal. Rice tends to absorb more arsenic from groundwater than other crops.
Choose to provide your baby with a variety of grains such as oatmeal, barley, couscous, quinoa, farro, and bulgur. Multi-grain baby cereals can be a good option.
Serve a variety of foods. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables. Roots like them have higher concentrations of heavy metals than other vegetables. Switching from carrots or sweet potatoes to other vegetables can lower the overall heavy metal content.
Read product labels. Different flavor mixes can have sweet potatoes as their first ingredient. Reading the label helps you really offer a variety of foods.
Opt for healthy fish. Some types of fish can be high in mercury. Choose light tuna, salmon, cod, white fish, and haddock.
Check your water. Heavy metals can get into tap water, arsenic can contaminate well water, and old pipes can contain lead.
Organic is not necessarily low in heavy metal levels
Dr. White points out that preparing baby food at home does not ensure that a child’s exposure to heavy metals will be reduced. It depends on the dose of heavy metals in each of the ingredients that is being used.
The soil where organic products are grown could have been contaminated for generations before conversion, and water runoff from neighboring farms could contaminate common water sources.
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