Study finds lead in one in five baby foods sampled

A recent study found that an alarming number of baby foods may contain lead / Matt Thielke (WGXA)

MACON, Ga. -- A recent study by the Environmental Defense Fund of 11 years of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data claims that one in five baby foods sampled contain some kind of lead.

Tom Neltner, a chemicals policy director at Environmental Defense Fund, said that the study found that baby foods that were made from root vegetables such as carrots or sweet potatoes tended to contain higher levels of lead than others.

He said that researchers can't be completely sure where the contamination comes from, but that it is likely that it is from the soil.

Neltner also said that specific brands of the baby foods that the study found contain lead weren't listed in the study because the information was gathered simply by using FDA data, but that any parents who may be concerned about lead levels should call the company who makes their child's food to ask about how they make sure their ingredients are safe and aren't being contaminated.

Dr. Mickey Bansal, an ER pediatrician with Coliseum Medical Center, said that high lead levels in young children can have widespread health impacts, specifically for the brain. He said that it can cause attention deficit disorder (ADD) and potential IQ and brain development issues. Bansal said acute lead poisoning will give symptoms that are immediately noticeable, like vomiting. However, chronic lead exposure can lead to non-immediate health issues in children, such as lower academic performance and attention problems. Those can show up some time after the extended exposure to lead.

He said that he encourages any parent who may be concerned about high lead levels to contact their pediatrician. If high lead levels are noted in a child's 12 or 24 month check up, that information must be reported to the Department of Public Health.

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