Parents often have questions when they hear news, about metals being found in baby food.
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides some information on the risks of children being exposed to metals and how to minimize it.
Can heavy metals in baby food harm my child?
While the levels of metals in baby food are generally low they still contribute to a portion of a childs overall risk of exposure to toxic metals. However it is important to minimize exposure from all sources. Exposure to metals can have effects on a childs developing brain, such as impacting learning, cognition and behavior. It’s worth noting that healthy brain development is influenced by factors including genetics, social environment and exposure to metals is just one piece of the puzzle.
How do heavy metals find their way into our food?
Metals naturally exist in the Earths crust and can be released into the environment as pollution. They can then enter water and soil used for growing crops. Additionally during food manufacturing and packaging processes some common metals like inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury can make their way, into our food.
How can I minimize the amount of metals my baby is exposed to?
Implementing regulations and guidelines, for testing and limiting the presence of heavy metals in baby and toddler food is crucial. However there are steps that parents can currently take to reduce the risk of their children being exposed to metals through their diet or other sources;
Offer a range of foods; Ensure that your childs diet consists of a selection of fruits vegetables (make sure to wash them thoroughly before preparation) whole grains and lean protein. By providing a variety of foods that’re rich in essential nutrients you can minimize their exposure to toxic metals and other contaminants often found in certain food items.
Check the labels; Consider opting for baby food blends that contain ingredients. However be mindful that many blends might have secondary ingredients. For instance different flavor combinations like kale/. Spinach/pumpkin could both have potatoes, as their primary ingredient. It’s important to read the ingredients label to ensure a variety of foods.
Vary your choice of grains; While fortified infant cereals can offer nutrition for babies it’s not necessary for rice cereal to be their exclusive option.
Rice has a tendency to absorb arsenic from groundwater compared to crops. To diversify your babys diet you can incorporate grains such, as oat, barley, couscous, quinoa, farro and bulgur. Multi grain infant cereals can be an option. It is advisable to avoid using rice milk and brown rice syrup, which are sometimes used as sweeteners in processed toddler foods.
Here are some tips for selecting and cooking rice for your children;
Keep in mind that brown rice generally contains levels of arsenic compared to types of rice. Opt for white basmati or sushi rice as they tend to have levels. Before cooking rice from scratch it is recommended to rinse it. Cook it with water. Then drain off the excess once its cooked.
Ensure the quality of your water as metals like arsenic can contaminate tap water. Well water may be particularly susceptible to contamination and older pipes might contain lead. If you have concerns about your water quality consider contacting your health department for testing.
If possible breastfeeding of formula feeding can help reduce exposure to metals. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding as the source of nutrition, for babies up until approximately 6 months old.
It is advisable to avoid giving fruit juice to your baby. offer toddlers and young children sliced or pureed fruits of juice. Some fruit juices may contain levels of metals. Additionally juice is high, in sugar. Lacks the nutritional value as whole fruit. For babies under 6 months old it’s best to stick with breast milk or formula while water and milk are options for children over the age of 1.
When it comes to fish making healthy choices is important. Certain types of fish can contain levels of methylmercury a form of mercury well as other metals. Its particularly concerning in predatory fish such as shark orange roughy, swordfish and albacore/white tuna since they consume fish and have longer lifespans. Consuming amounts of fish can negatively impact a childs developing nervous system. However fish is also a source of protein and essential nutrients that children need. Look for alternatives like tuna (solid or chunk) salmon, cod whitefish and pollock.
When preparing baby food it’s beneficial to incorporate variety. There are advantages to making your baby food from fresh ingredients at home; it can be cost effective while avoiding potential contaminants from processing or packaging; plus you have control, over the choice of ingredients. It’s important to remember that providing a variety of food options is just as crucial when making your baby food as it is when buying packaged baby foods.
Make sure to address any lead hazards in your home. There are ways to minimize your babys exposure, to toxic metals. For instance peeling or chipping paint in homes is a source of lead exposure. Additionally soil, certain cosmetics and spices, water and specific occupations and hobbies can also pose risks. You can find information about lead here.
Avoid smoking or vaping around your baby. Secondhand and thirdhand smoke from cigarettes well as e cigarettes can expose children to harmful metals like cadmium and lead. Vaping also releases metals from the vape coils into the air which can be inhaled. Secondhand smoke contains chemicals that increase cancer risk.
Is organic baby food better?
Organic baby foods may have lower levels of certain pesticides and chemicals compared to non organic options. However it’s worth noting that heavy metals present in the soil can still find their way into foods during processing resulting in levels of heavy metal content between organic and non organic varieties.
Should I have my baby tested for metal exposure?
It is recommended for children at 1 and 2 years of age to undergo testing, for exposure. There is no need, for testing if a childs only exposure, to metals comes from baby foods.
Give us a call at 027 472 7788 to schedule your appointment, for a heavy metal testing. Our team of professionals is available to assist you throughout the process and address any inquiries you may have.