A disturbing new study might have parents triple-checking the labels of their baby food.
Commissioned by Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) and conducted by Abt Associates, the study found that of the baby foods it tested, 95 percent were found to contain toxic chemicals, including arsenic and lead.
Of the popular store brands tested, one in four contained toxic chemicals, the study found. In addition to arsenic and lead, cadmium and mercury were also found.
Of the 168 baby foods tested for the study, rice-based products posed one of the biggest threats.
“Puffs and other snacks made with rice flour contain arsenic, lead and cadmium at relatively high levels compared to other baby foods,” the study said, while “teething biscuits and rice rusks often contain arsenic, lead, and cadmium.”
But the number one culprit for arsenic in infants’ diets? Infant rice cereal, the study found.
“Rice is a leading source of arsenic exposure for young children,” the report stated, suggesting parents instead serve their children “other grains like oats, wheat and barley instead of rice to help cut their family’s exposures.”
But if parents are using rice-based foods, it is suggested that the rice be cooked in extra water “that is poured off before serving,” which can “cut the arsenic levels by up to 60 percent, according to FDA studies (FDA 2016).”
Basmati rice grown in California, India, and Pakistan has the lowest arsenic levels, while rice from Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, “or simply ‘U.S.'” has the highest levels, the study said. That data was based on testing by Consumer Reports, the study said.
In addition to rice-based products, other problematic foods included apple, pear, grape and other fruit juices as well as carrots and sweet potatoes, which “contain higher levels of lead and cadmium than other fruits and vegetables, on average.”
HBBF encouraged parents to provide their children with tap water and a variety of fruits and vegetables to avoid risk of exposure to the harmful toxins.
The organization warned that the chemicals in question “can permanently alter the developing brain, erode IQ, and affect behavior.”
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