Lead, one of the most threatening heavy metals lurking in baby food

By Treven Pyles

Posted on February 02nd, 2022

While exposure to cadmium, arsenic, lead, and mercury implies serious health risks, lead is one of the more powerful heavy metals. It causes neurotoxicity faster than other toxic metals, and it wreaks havoc on the developing brain and nervous system of children. Lead is one of the most studied heavy metals to date.

As a naturally occurring element, lead is a very toxic metal, exposure to which can result in numerous severe health issues. The heavy metal is present in the air, soil, water, and surprisingly, in our homes. Most lead exposure is the consequence of human activities such as the use of fossil fuels, including the past use of leaded gasoline, the activity of some industrial facilities, and the past use of paint containing lead on the walls of residential buildings. Furthermore, lead can be found in ceramics, pipes, plumbing, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition, and cosmetics.

Babies are more vulnerable to the negative health impact of lead because they have a higher rate of uptake of nutrients by the gastrointestinal tract, incompletely developed blood-brain barrier, and undeveloped detoxification system. The health problems regular exposure to lead might cause include the following in adults, children, and pregnant women:

  • high blood pressure
  • kidney damage
  • decreased ability to pay attention
  • miscarriage
  • underperformance in school
  • autism
  • stillbirth
  • learning and behavior problems
  • weakness
  • premature birth
  • brain damage
  • low birth weight
  • anemia
  • delayed growth and development
  • damage to the nervous system
  • hearing and speech problems
  • lower IQ
  • damaged intellectual development

Although there is no safe concentration of lead in the blood, as many as 500,000 children between 1 to 5 across the country have blood concentrations of lead above the safe limit, which is 5 mcg/dL. There is a strong connection between exposure to lead from toxic baby food and autism. Once it enters the body, lead acts as a neurotoxin, damaging the brain and nervous system of the child. Because it is a neurotoxin, lead can easily cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the cerebral matter, where it will settle, slowly causing neurodevelopmental problems. Lead accumulation in the brain makes it susceptible to neurotoxic actions that occur by mechanisms such as a buildup of damaged molecules and compromised DNA repair.

What the Environmental Defense Fund discovered with regard to lead in baby food

The Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit environmental advocacy group, analyzed 11 years of Food and Drug Administration data. It found that infant and toddler food is a meaningful and surprising source of lead. The key findings of the study are the following:

  • lead was present in 20% of baby food samples compared to 14% for other products
  • 8 types of baby food had detectable lead concentrations in over 40% of samples
  • the versions of apple and grape juices and carrots had more samples with detectable lead than the regular versions
  • more than 1 million children in our country consume more lead than the safe limit
  • eliminating lead from baby food would save society over $27 billion annually in total lifetime earnings from saved IQ points

To put it differently, 2,164 baby food samples and the other 10,064 food samples had trace levels of lead. At least one sample in 52 out of the 57 types of baby food tested by the Food and Drug Administration had detectable lead concentrations in it. Interestingly, lead was most commonly found in these baby foods:

  • fruit juices: 89% of grape juice, 67% of mixed fruit juice, 55% of apple juice, and 45% of pear juice
  • root vegetables: 86% of sweet potatoes and 43% of carrots
  • cookies: 64% of arrowroot cookies and 47% of teething biscuits

Finally, what the Environmental Defense Fund recommends to the Food and Drug Administration is that the agency makes sure lead is not present in any food contact material where it is reasonably expected to get into food, makes clear that the international standards for fruit juice are inadequate, updates the limits and food safety guidance to meet the current scientific understanding of lead risks, and encourages companies to reduce lead concentrations in baby food and take immediate action when limits are exceeded. As for manufacturers, the group advises the companies to:

  • set a goal lower than 1 ppb of lead in baby food
  • prioritize lead minimization when sourcing ingredients
  • test more often during processing to identify the sources of lead

We are ready to offer you high-quality legal assistance with filing a toxic baby food claim

Our law firm has been offering assistance to toxic exposure victims, from industrial workers to veterans, for nearly three decades, which means that we have what it takes to help you as well. We currently take on claims of parents whose children developed autism spectrum disorders because of having been fed toxic food. To initiate the legal process, after you give our legal team a call, you just have to explain your situation in detail, answer our questions, and send our experts a copy of the medical records of your child.

Following a careful assessment, our lawyers will establish whether you are entitled to financial compensation from the responsible company, as you must meet multiple eligibility criteria. If you are, we will shortly begin preparing your toxic baby food claim for submission. Until resolution, you can go on with your life as usual, as we will tackle the most difficult aspects of the process on your behalf. We are aware that parents who have children with autism usually require more time to take care of them. Eventually, we will present you with the compensation you are entitled to.