About 50 percent of baby food products, specifically rice-based ones, have illegal levels of arsenic.
Babies can be quite resilient, but they're quite fragile as well. Arsenic exposure isn't something that we'd think babies have to deal with. However, researchers have discovered that half of baby rice food products contain higher levels of arsenic than is legal.
Arsenic is a natural chemical present in varying levels in the environment. The consumption of low levels of arsenic isn't a problem. However, high levels could cause health problems and developmental issues in babies. Thus, the fact that food intended for babies has illegal levels of arsenic is worrying.
In January of last year, the European Union set a maximum level of inorganic arsenic in food products. Setting a limit on the amount of inorganic arsenic can help keep health risks low. However, recent findings show that though the law limiting arsenic levels is already in effect, some manufacturers may not be complying.
The fact that baby rice food products are in question isn't surprising. Rice has much more arsenic than other foods. However, there are already regulations in place that seek to control the amount of arsenic that goes into baby food. Of course, it's possible that food containing now-illegal levels of arsenic were manufactured before the legislation became effective. In any case, it may be prudent to avoid feeding baby rice food products to infants.
Researchers studied arsenic levels in 11 babies who were either breastfed or formula fed. They found that there were higher levels of arsenic in formula-fed babies than those who were breastfed. These formula-fed babies had non-dairy rice-fortified formula. Researchers found that during the weaning process, the formula-fed babies had a higher exposure to arsenic. This underlines the association between rice-based baby food and higher arsenic levels.
Unfortunately, baby rice food products are quite popular, since they're widely available, nutritious, and less likely to trigger allergy symptoms. Baby crackers, rice cakes, and rice cereal are quite common in a baby's diet. The study found, however, that 75% of baby crackers on the market have illegal levels of arsenic.
Babies are at a delicate stage of development. They are also more susceptible to the negative effects of high arsenic consumption. While manufacturers should comply with regulatory standards concerning baby food, it may be better for parents to be more discerning of the food they feed their babies.
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