Arsenic in high concentrations could have harmful effects on brain development in children.
The Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), a nonprofit association that aims to reduce babies' exposure to toxic chemicals, tested about 170 baby foods for heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury.
The report published days ago revealed that 95% of the samples tested contained these metals, and a quarter of the baby foods tested contained all four chemicals.
Finding these metals in baby food is doubly serious, not only because of their lower weight, but because they do not even have a developed immune system that can defend them from environmental contamination.
Among the effects of these metals on children's health are certain detrimental effects on brain development, such as a decrease in IQ.
However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not set safety limits for a number of common baby foods known to contain heavy metals, including infant formulas, cereals, and canned fruits and vegetables. . Even when safety limits exist, environmental groups have found chemical concentrations that exceed the FDA threshold.
High arsenic levels in rice-based cereals
The tests were conducted between 2014 and 2017 in 14 metropolitan areas in the US. The food came from more than 60 brands and 17 different retailers, including supermarkets.
Of all the baby foods tested, rice-based foods were found to have the highest concentrations of heavy metals.
Among these foods, the report identified arsenic as the "primary toxic metal of concern," and rice-based cereals as "the main source of arsenic in babies' diets."
Arsenic forms naturally in the earth's crust. Exposure to the compound has been linked to brain development problems in children, including slower motor function, decreased memory, and IQ under the same conditions. It can also lead to birth defects and an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.