A growing body of research is unveiling the dangers of this harmful chemical in a commonly served baby food.
One of the most common baby foods could be putting your child at risk. According to a report from CNN, a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics reveals that there is an alarming amount of inorganic arsenic in white and brown rice, which finds its way into processed cereals commonly fed to infants.
Researchers say inorganic arsenic can cause significant damage to a baby’s immune system and cognitive development later on in life. Rice and rice-derived products like cereal are commonly one of the first solid foods parents give to their children, but scientists are growing increasingly concerned about the potential for negative effects due to arsenic exposure.
The recent study found that arsenic concentrations were twice as high in urine samples from infants who ate white or brown rice when compared with infants who ate no rice. Arsenic levels were particularly high in babies who had eaten rice cereal.
The FDA recently proposed new guidelines for rice producers to limit the amount of inorganic arsenic in their products to 100 parts per billion. You may be thinking that no arsenic at all would be the wise option, but the chemical is less harmful in such small concentrations. The European Food Safety Authority has already passed the 100 parts per billion limit in rice products sold in the EU.
According to Margaret Karagas, an epidemiologist from Dartmouth College and the study’s lead author, “Arsenic is a known carcinogen that can influence risk of cardiovascular, immune and other diseases. There’s a growing body of evidence that even relatively low levels of exposure can have an adverse impact on young children.”
Studies have linked arsenic exposure to negative impacts on neurological development, leading to measureable dip in IQ when children are exposed at a young age. Other studies have linked the chemical to a weakened ability to fight off infections.
So parents, think twice before giving your child any old rice cereal. It is wise to thoroughly research any food product before giving it to an infant.
The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, can be found here.