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Metal found in some baby foods, but varied diet can lower risk :

May 1, 2021

You may have read reports about toxic metal found in baby food. Toxic metal is harmful to infants and children. It can cause learning, thinking and behavior problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has tips to help parents reduce the risk for their babies.

Some nutrients in our diet, like iron and zinc, are metals. They are healthy in the right amount. Other metals, like lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury, are toxic.

Metal can be absorbed from the soil and water by plants and animals and get into our food. Even organic baby food may contain toxic metals. The metal also can be absorbed by food during processing and packaging. Some foods have more metal than others. For example:

  • Rice contains arsenic. Brown rice has the highest amount. White basmati and sushi rice tend to have lower levels. Rinse rice well in water before cooking. Use extra water while cooking and drain the water before serving.
  • Large fish contain mercury. This includes shark, orange roughy, swordfish and albacore/white tuna. Other fish have less mercury, such as light tuna (chunk or solid), salmon, cod, whitefish and pollock.
  • Imported spices may contain lead. Spices such as turmeric, cumin, curry powder, hot pepper, chili powder and paprika have been recalled.

The AAP advises offering a variety of foods to lower the amount of toxic metals in your child’s diet (https://bit.ly/3rXwI6a). Your baby’s menu can include a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and lean protein. Offer different types of fortified infant cereals. Try grains like rice, oats, barley, couscous, quinoa, faro and bulgur. To avoid metal from processing and packaging, parents can make homemade baby food.

The AAP does not recommend testing children for toxic metal exposure. If you are concerned about toxic metal, talk with your pediatrician. Parents also can contact environmental health experts in their state at https://www.pehsu.net/findhelp.html.

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