Tests on 168 baby foods from major US manufacturers showed that 95% contained lead, 73% arsenic, 75% cadmium, and 32% mercury. One quarter of the food contained all four heavy metals.
Every fifth baby food product tested had a ten-fold 1 ppb lead limit, which was recommended by public health advocates, although experts believe that no lead is safe.
] Foods most at risk for neurotoxic damage were rice products, sweet potatoes and fruit juices, according to analysis.
"Even in trace amounts in food, these contaminants can alter the developing brain and affect a child's IQ. The effects add up to any meal or snack a baby eats," the report said.
The tests were commissioned by Healthy Babies Bright Futures, an association of scientists, not-for-profit organizations and donors seeking to reduce exposure to neurotoxic chemicals in the first few months of life.
Infa cereals made from rice, rice dishes and rice-based snacks were high on the list of the most toxic baby foods.
"These popular baby foods not only contain a lot of inorganic arsenic, the most toxic form of arsenic, but are almost always contaminated with all four toxic metals," the report said.
Arsenic is a natural element found in soil, water and air, with inorganic form being the most toxic. ("Inorganic" is a chemical term and has nothing to do with the cultivation method.)
And in this case, brown and wild rice are the worst offenders because grinding white rice removes the outer layers that contain much of the arsenic concentrate.
In the analysis of Healthy Babies, four out of seven rice cereals contained the most toxic form of arsenic in amounts greater than the FDA's proposed 100 ppb.
Important baby food companies and the FDA would urgently need to take action, the report said. While the FDA has investigated how exposure can be reduced and some levels of arsenic in rice and juice are lower than a decade ago, exposure is still too high.
"When the FDA acts, companies respond and we need the FDA to use their powers more effectively and much faster to reduce toxic heavy metals in baby food," said study author Jane Houlihan, research director for Healthy Babies Better Futures ,
What can parents do?
The analysis looked at which baby food poses the highest risk and offered safer alternatives.
Puff Rice Snacks and Cereals
Rice cereal is the main source of arsenic in a baby's diet because it is often used as the first food. Rice balls and other rice flour snacks also contain high levels. Healthy Babies suggested low-arsenic cereals such as oatmeal and multi-grain cereals, as well as rice-free pre-packaged snacks.
"The best first-line foods for infants are avocado, pureed vegetables, peanut butter oatmeal, and salmon," said Altmann. "They all provide essential nutrients that babies need, help them develop their taste buds to favor healthy food, and alleviate food allergies."
She believes that meat is a better source of iron and zinc for babies than rice muesli I have not recommended rice muesli as the first food for several years. "
If you decide to cook rice for your toddler, Healthy Babies recommends cooking rice in extra water and pouring it before eating, according to FDA studies, this will reduce arsenic levels by 60%."
For the lowest levels, buy basmati rice grown in California, India and Pakistan. White rice contains less arsenic than brown rice, "it says in the report.
Teething troubles may contain arsenic, lead and cadmium, the report said, calming the pain instead However, watch out for suffocation.
Drinking for parents is not a good option, says The American Academy of Pediatrics Juices are sugary, low in fiber, and can lead to tooth decay and subsequent obesity.Apple, pear, grape, and other fruit juices may also contain some lead and arsenic, so frequent use is a major source of this Heavy metals.
Instead, experts consider water and milk to be the best choice, depending on the child's age. Babies under six months need only breast milk and milk formula. The drinks of choice for the second year of a child should be water and whole milk. Between the ages of 2 and 5, parents should switch to skim milk or low-fat milk and keep pushing water to keep their children hydrated.
At any age, the juice should be kept to a minimum. Tip: Add water to keep the juice longer and always make sure the drink is 100% juice.
Fruits and Vegetables
Although sweet potatoes and carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and other essential nutrients, they also contain lots of lead and cadmium. Feed your child with these vegetables, but be sure to add many other colorful fruits and vegetables to increase variety.