Don’t Panic, But There’s Probably Lead in Your Baby’s Food

You should know that I'm a straight shooter when it comes to delivering the latest in baby and parenting health news, so here's the truth. It's very likely that there's lead in your baby's food right now. A new study has revealed the troubling truth that baby food isn't as healthy as we think it is. The study was conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund and revealed that 20% of the 2,165 baby food samples that they looked at contained dangerous levels of lead.

Lead, as you probably can guess, is not healthy for babies. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a very firm stance that there is precisely no level of lead that is safe in baby food ever. 

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Lead is very dangerous for babies and can cause problems later in childhood such as: 

  • Learning delays
  • Attention deficit disorders
  • Neurological disorders

“The levels we found were relatively low, but when you add them up — with all the foods children eat … it's significant,” said the study's main author, Tom Neltner. 

I have to admit that I was never a person who dedicated much time to making my babies' food. Sure, I would go as far as maybe smashing up a banana now and then. But other than that, I headed to the grocery store to pick up the best of the best when it came to all-natural and organic baby food in a jar or a pouch. There are so many things on our plates as mothers and the fact that we can't even trust baby food anymore is definitely frustrating news. But still, it's important that we know the health risks to our children and what we can do to take action. 

baby food, lead
Image via Flickr/ ad cahyo

So where exactly is the lead in baby food lurking? The study didn't specify any one brand (don't want to make any of those businesses mad, right?). Instead, it pointed out the most common types of baby food products that contained lead. The food items with the highest levels of lead included:

  • Fruit juice. Grape juice was by far found to the be worst culprit of all. A whopping 89% of grape juices had lead in them, followed by 67% of “mixed fruit juice,” 55% of apple juice and 45% of pear juice samples. Even more frightening, there was more lead in the “baby” versions of fruit juice rather than just buying grape juice from the regular section of a store. 
  • Root vegetables. Carrots may be healthy, but they were also, unfortunately, the largest lead offenders in baby food. Root vegetable baby food had lead in 65% of samples and just like the juice, there was more lead in the baby versions of carrots than regular carrots. 
  • Crackers and cookies. Tasty, but not good for lead — it was found in 47% of crackers and cookies. 

The APA and EDF noted that they aren't exactly sure why there is so much lead in baby food, explaining it may be from the type of soil the foods are grown in or it may be from the processing of baby food. But they are looking into it. 

While they aren't entirely sure why there is so much lead in the baby food, in the meantime, what should you do? First of all, if you're purchasing baby food, try to avoid some of the big culprits. Don't buy baby juice, especially grape (the AAP recently released recommendations that babies should not have any fruit juice anyway). And avoid buying root vegetable baby food, along with crackers and cookies. 

If you can only make a small batch of your own baby food, try focusing on the root vegetables. Overall though, don't stress about buying baby food from the store if you have to. Focus on fresh when you can and avoid some of the higher-lead items when you can't. I'm a big believer in staying up-to-date on the latest studies and being realistic about what we can do as parents. And for that me, that means primarily buying baby food. Except for those bananas. 

Do you make your own baby food?

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Don’t Panic, But There’s Probably Lead in Your Baby’s Food

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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