Is lead in the U.S. food supply decreasing our IQ?

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There are certain types of baby food that more commonly contained lead.

According to its findings, 20 percent of 2,164 random baby food samples had detectable levels of lead. The most likely to contain lead are fruit juices, cookies, and root vegetables.

Baby food was the main focus of the study because lead consumption can be detrimental to development.

"EDF also found that more than 1 million children consume more lead than the FDA's limit", the report said. The latest research suggests that there is no safe level of lead for children. Lead can undermine the cognitive development of infants, as well, it can drive to attention issues and problems in the immune and cardiovascular systems.

The Environmental Defense Fund analyzed publicly available data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Total Diet Study, which each year collects samples of food from around the country and tests it for a host of nutrients and contaminants, including lead.

EDF says baby food versions of apple and grape juice and carrots had samples with higher levels of lead than the regular versions. For example, 89 percent of the baby food grape juice samples had detectable levels of lead in them.

The FDA does not identify the brands that were tested or the stores where they were purchased. She further said the standards of FDA are outdated, and they're yet to update in the past decades. Exposure at a young age can permanently affect a developing brain, causing lifelong behavioral problems and lower IQ.


The levels in the foods were below what the FDA considers alarming, and the dose that a child gets depends on their overall diet and what other exposures they have.

"Lead is in food because it is in the environment and lead can not simply be removed from food", according to FDA.org.

Recall that the 2012 National Toxicology Program Report cited a wide range of measurable health effects occurring with blood lead levels less than 5 μg/dL.

"In many American communities, the most significant route of lead exposure is from paint and soil", Bole said. The food was collected from a different city each year and combined into composite samples - for example all the grape juice was poured into one sample.

This type of plot gives a ballpark idea of the percentage of the baby food being sold in the USA for certain levels of lead.

"Avoiding all sources of exposure to lead poisoning is incredibly important ... but the last thing I would want is for a parent to restrict their child's diet or limit their intake of healthy food groups" said Bole. Sixty-four percent of arrowroot cookies had the harmful substance, as well as 47 percent of teething biscuits.

According to the FDA, lead makes its way into food through contaminated soil, but Neltner suspects that processing may also play a role.

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