Many individuals are familiar with the facts that lead has been found in American drinking water, high mercury levels are present in certain fish products, and that enough arsenic to cause worry has been found in rice. But many are not aware that these and other heavy metals have been found in foods specifically produced for babies and toddlers.
Medical experts concur that too much exposure to these harmful materials can result in the impairment of cognitive development in very young children.
The Extent Of The Problem
More than 90 percent of parents with children under the age of three years old report that they turn to packaged food to provide at least some of their children’s nourishment. Annual sales of baby food in recent years have equaled more than $50 billion and are expected to top $76 billion by the year 2021.
A recent set of tests conducted by Consumer Reports uncovered a number of serious problems:
- Every product tested contained either arsenic, cadmium, or lead
- Nearly 70 percent of products tested contained troublesome levels of heavy metals
- Fifteen of the food products tested contained levels of heavy metals high enough to cause health problems in children even if only one serving a day or less was consumed
- Products containing rice or sweet potatoes were most likely to contain higher levels of heavy metals
- Foods labeled as organic were equally likely to contain heavy metals than those that were not
Why Is This A Problem
The human body makes use of trace amounts of certain heavy metals to facilitate its proper function. However, metals like cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and lead are toxic substances that are especially harmful to children. Even small amounts of exposure to these substances can result in decreased IQs and the development of behavior problems. There have also been links established between the intake of these metals and conditions like autism and ADHD.
The risks associated with these metals increases over time due to the fact that they accumulate in the internal organs of the body. These toxins remain present in the body for years and can lead to cognitive and reproductive problems, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
What Parents Can Do
Parents concerned with the presence or effects of heavy metals in children’s food products can take a number of steps to lessen the impact of the problem. A good first step is to drastically reduce the amount of cereal made from rice that is fed to children. This cereal is often used because of its ease to swallow for the child but there is no legitimate reason that these foods have to be consumed.
Parents that choose to include rice cereals in the diets of their children should do a little research in order to choose the best rice possible. Studies show that arsenic levels vary greatly among types of rice.
Parents will also do well to limit the packaged snacks that are consumed by their children. Nutritionists would agree with this step even without the risk from harmful metals as many of these foods are low in nutrition and possess excessive amounts of sugars and sodium.
Parents can also provide their children with a variety of whole food choices that have been tested and proven to contain low levels of heavy metals such as apples, avocados, beans, diced vegetables and quite a few others.
Parents who feel that despite their best efforts their children have been affected by toxic levels of heavy metals in baby food should contact the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates for a consultation.