Some Baby Food Brands Were Just Found To Contain Toxic Metals. Here's What You Need To Know

A recent study conducted by Healthy Babies Bright Futures showed that toxic heavy metals were present in up to 95 percent of a random sampling of baby food brands that are available on most supermarket shelves, including Gerber, Earth's Best, Beech-Nut, and certain in-house store brands. Of the 168 baby foods tested, 95 percent were found to contain lead, 75 percent were shown to contain cadmium, 73 percent contained levels of arsenic, 32 percent contained mercury, and a shocking 25 percent contained all four of the toxic metals, according to CNN

Consuming these four toxic metals has been shown to negatively impact a baby's IQ, brain development, and behavior, according to Healthy Babies Bright Futures. Jane Houlihan, the Healthy Babies Bright Futures' national director and the study's author, explained via CNN: "Their brain is forming rapidly, and so when they're exposed to metals that can interrupt those natural processes, the impacts range from behavioral problems to aggression to IQ loss and all kinds of cognitive and behavioral deficits that can persist throughout life. Pound for pound, babies get the highest dose of these heavy metals compared to other parts of the population, so the consequences are serious." 

Most unsettling is the fact that a new investigation has shown that many of these companies knew that their manufactured foods contained these levels of heavy metals, but nothing was done to stop it. And according to CNN, several companies were not willing to cooperate during the investigation — which has lead to the assumption that the concentration of heavy metals in those products could be even worse.

Rice-based foods had the highest levels of metal toxicity

Until they were shown to increase the risk of cancer, chronic disease, and heavy metal toxicity, many companies "used metals as the predominant pesticide for many years, assuming it was safe," said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, chief of environmental pediatrics at NYU Langone, to CNN. The health impact on children is even more pronounced. Consuming toxic heavy metals in food has led to the loss of over 11 million IQ points for babies under two years old, according to the study.

The study showed the worst culprits were rice-based foods, like rice cereals and rice puff snacks, which contained the highest levels of arsenic and were also the most likely to contain levels of all four toxic heavy metals. Fruit juices, sweet potatoes, and carrots were also shown to increase the risk of heavy metal exposure in babies. To help keep children safe and lower their risk of potential exposure, the study's authors recommend feeding children safer, rice-free alternatives, like bananas or oatmeal, giving them water or milk instead of juice, and including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in their diet.