Heavy Metals in Baby Foods and their Connection to Autism: An Eye-Opener for Parents

Many biochemical functions are sustained by heavy metals such as zinc, magnesium, and iron. However, when the quantities of heavy metals exceed the recommended limits, the consequences can prove destructive, especially for babies. A recent congressional report unveiled the existence of alarming heavy metal concentrations in popular baby food brands such as Gerber, Beech-Nut, Plum Organics, and more.

When it comes to infants, the absorption of nutrients is way higher, so the risk of neurotoxicity is elevated. Once the neurotoxins reach the brain, all the cognitive processes may be altered. To this end, babies’ physical and mental development is challenged since different parts of the brain coordinate all the functions. Multiple studies have proved that high heavy metal levels are closely linked to learning disabilities, neurofunction problems, attention deficits, and autism.

heavy metals in baby food
Source: freepik.com

Studies Confirm the Link Between Heavy Metals and Autism

It is difficult to assess what causes autism and the most relevant influential factors. Nevertheless, we do know there is a strong link between heavy metal exposure and an increased rate of autism spectrum disorders. In fact, new technologies helped conduct a study in this direction by the National Institutes of Health, taking into account diverse dental aspects. Scientists extracted dentine layers and examined the growth rings, discovering that babies with ASD (autism spectrum disorders) had a different metal uptake level in their teeth than those who didn’t suffer from any related health condition.

Another study by BMC Public Health analyzed hair samples from 30 children diagnosed with ASD and 30 randomly selected children who were not diagnosed with ASD. The results showed that the lead and arsenic concentrations discovered in children with ASD were significantly higher than in the case of children included in the other category. It was found that there was an undeniable correlation between toxic metal overload and the existence of ASD types.

heavy metals in baby foods

How Parents Can Protect Their Babies Against Toxic Heavy Metals

After assessing the potential risks and dangers babies can be exposed to after consuming certain food brands, parents should look into healthier alternatives to reduce the amount of heavy metals that goes into their children’s diets:

    • Give up processed snacks and go with avocados, bananas, grapes, and beans, which are safer alternatives. Multi-grain cereals may be an adequate substitute for rice-based cereals.
    • Fish is also a fantastic nutritional source. It is one of the most reliable sources of omega-3 fatty acids that accelerates cognitive functions, and it is a well-known brain enhancer. While some fish may contain excessive amounts of mercury, other fish like cod, salmon, and light tuna are excellent healthier alternatives.
    • Water instead of juice. Water is your best choice, given that fruit juice, especially apple juice, contains significant traces of lead and arsenic. However, check the water source as lead might be present. So, check the pipes from time to time to avoid contaminated tap water.
    • Breastfeeding instead of formula is another excellent way to reduce the content of heavy metals that you may feed your child. Breast milk contains protective sugars and specialized fats deposited in the brain areas to help throughout the growth process. The immune system is also developed with the help of breast milk, the risk of numerous diseases being radically diminished.
    • Rice, predominantly brown assortments, can absorb larger quantities of inorganic arsenic from the environment. Most baby snacks and cereal are rice-based and contain alarming heavy metal percentages. Therefore, it is highly recommended to choose to integrate other multi-grain grains into babies’ diets, such as wheat or oats.

Overall, trying to diminish the devastating health effects linked to contaminated baby food consumption might be perceived by the parents as a huge struggle. However, if you wish to source ethical companies that test for heavy metals, check out the Toxic Baby Food Replacement Campaign. To receive free baby foods, parents should complete the form available on the site.

About the Author

Jonathan Sharp is the CFO of the Environmental Litigation Group, an Alabama-based law firm that focuses on toxic exposure cases.

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