A startling new report finds detectable levels of lead in baby food, a finding that may concern parents. But experts say it's important to stay vigilant about bigger sources of lead poisoning in kids.
Crumbling, peeling paint in older homes is one of the nation's biggest sources of lead exposure. Now there's evidence of another, more minor source of lead exposure in some food produced.
"That included fruit juices; baby fruit juices; root vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, and some categories of cookies, like arrowroot biscuits and teething cookies,” said Sarah Vogel from the Environmental Defense Fund.
The Environmental Defense Fund explored data from the Food and Drug Administration, finding what it calls "detectable" levels of lead in some baby food — though there's no information about how much or which brands are involved, and some samples had no lead at all.
"Lead can have an impact on the developing brain. It can have consequences later in life when it comes to issues around attention, behavior," said Dr. Aparna Bole, a pediatrician with UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.
The FDA says the administration set a maximum daily lead intake of six micrograms, which is being reviewed, saying on its website, "lead is in food because it is in the environment and lead cannot simply be removed from food."
Doctors discourage parents from worrying too much about lead in baby food, saying they can make their own baby food by using local produce when possible and speaking to their pediatricians about the best ways to avoid lead.
"I certainly would not recommend avoiding entire food groups because of a concern about lead exposure," Bole said. "Root vegetables are a really healthy choice for babies."