Pediatricians know that they have to avoid lead exposure from paint chips and contaminated drinking water to them and their patients. A new study suggests baby food could be an important source of lead as well.
The Environmental Defense
Fund found appreciable levels of lead in twenty percent of baby food samples. It’s found mainly in fruit juices such as grape and apple, and root vegetables such as carrots.
Lead can cause problems with attention and behavior, it might lead to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, impairment in cognitive development, and cardiovascular-immune system complications.
The amount of lead detected is actually relatively low, however, a safe serum lead level in children is not established, ie, any amount of lead in children puts the child in a risk of developing complications.
In a draft report released earlier this year, it was found that over five percent of children consume more than 6 micrograms per day of lead in their diet, which is the maximum daily intake suggested for adults by the FDA in 1993.
FDA has set guidance levels of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for candy and dried fruit and 50 ppb for fruit juices.
The allowable level for lead in bottled water is 5 ppb.
The FDA thinks that lead makes its way into food through contaminated soil, but more research on the sources of contamination is needed as it’s thought that food processing may also play a role
Suggestions towards this issue “In many American communities, the most significant route of lead exposure is from paint and soil,” Dr. Aparna Bole, pediatrician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, said.
“Avoiding all sources of exposure of lead poisoning is incredibly important … but the last thing I would want is for a parent to restrict their child’s diet or limit their intake of healthy food groups.” she added.
She added that she is with limiting fruit juice in diets since there are even better nutritional reasons than just the lead problem, however, she’s against limiting root vegetables juices as their benefits outweighs the risks.
Gerber said that samples of its baby foods and juices “consistently fall well within the available guidance levels and meet our own strict standards” and samples of Gerber juices were all below the EPA standard for drinking water.