This is a question that has accompanied me since I gave birth to my daughter and even during pregnancy. I think I’ve made my best to feed my little angel in healthy and proper way. But an article I read today at CNN has returned my anxiety about the quality of the food I feed my baby.
The article talked about the toxic heavy materials being found in majority of baby foods in USA (168 baby foods tested). The situation is almost tragic, considering that investigation found out that 95% of baby foods from major producers contained lead, 73% contained arsenic, 75% contained cadmium, 32% contained mercury and 25% of baby foods contained all of the toxic heavy metals mentioned here. And, we are talking about the food for babies 0 – 24 months and older.
Isn’t it terrifying? Thinking that we’re feeding our children with dangerous materials since in first years of life. It reminds me the difficult decision I had to make when my daughter was only 3 months old. I’ve had very difficult breastfeeding and finally when my daughter was 15 weeks old, she refused to drink anymore breast milk. I did everything I could to make her drink it, even though it was a torture in itself for me, but she denied it firmly. So my pediatrician advice me to feed her with infant formula. I started with the instant preparation of formula milk to feed her and she actually liked it.
After two weeks of formula milk, my sister came by and became curious to see the containing of the infant formula. Her question almost made my heart stop: “Are you aware that this formula contains palm oil?” You could imagine how surprising that was for me. I grabbed the formula can from her hand and: Yes, she was right; it was written palm oil among many other components. I remember I started to cry. There were years I never ate a product containing palm oil. How come I was so blind to feed my baby with palm oil! I took the formula can and through it at the trashes.
My mother advice me since the beginning to feed my daughter with fresh bovine milk, but I trusted to the pediatrician and all other pro-infant-formula mothers around me. Since that day I feed my daughter with fresh bovine milk and when she was 5 months old, started to prepare all her soups and foods with broth (veal, turkey, chicken, rabbit and lamb) to compensate for the lack of iron. And, after reading a recent study on breast milk published at Nature Research, I know my decision was the right one. The scientists studied the capability of milks in use for infants to protect the baby from diseases. The responsible element, which acts as anti inflammatory and antimicrobial is Glycerol Monolaurate (known as GML). The ranking coming out from the study was as follows:
- 1st Place – Human Breast Milk (containing 3000 µg/ml of GML
- 2nd Place – Bovine Milk (containing 150 μg/ml of GML)
- 3rd Place – Infant Formula (containing NONE of GML)
Coming back to the investigation mentioned by CNN, the researchers have found out that babies that have such toxins in their bodies could face problems with brain development. A previous study performed in Bangladesh, reached to the conclusion that children eating and drinking food and drinks contaminated with inorganic arsenic performed lower in IQ tests. Their intelligence was ‘damaged’ by the arsenic, which caused problems with their brain development. Studies show that 50% increase of level of arsenic in babies urine could lead to 0.4-point decrease in the IQ of children between 5 – 15 years old. This news is even more frightening for every parent.
Foods Containing Toxic Heavy Metals
But, which are the baby foods that are putting our babies at risk?
I. Rice-based Foods
All baby foods with rice are found to have high levels of arsenic, especially the worst form of this poison: inorganic arsenic; but not standing behind in containing all other heavy metals mentioned before. Snacks, canned foods with rice and any other type of foods prepared with rice are feeding our babies with arsenic too. Especially brown rice is even richer with arsenic, as it does have the peel, which contain more of this toxin. Fortunately, my daughter refused to eat the puddings my mother used to make for her with rice flour when she was a little baby. But, she likes a lot rice with meat now and this is something I have to change.
II. Sweet Potatoes and Carrots
Both these root-vegetables contain lead and cadmium. So, it is advisable to avoid them in preparation of baby foods at home. Or, make sure to add many other vegetables in the baby preparations. I’ve used a lot of sweet potatoes and carrots in my daughter’s foods during first months. There is nothing I could do about it now, but I’ll make sure to reduce their use from now and on.
III. Teething Products
Teething biscuits are another source of toxic heavy metals in babies’ bodies. Instead use iced pieces of fruits or bread crusts to help your baby deal with the teeth-to-come.
IV. Fruit Juices
Pediatricians advice to be careful with frequent use of fruit juice. The same downsides emphasized for adults regarding juices (lots of sugar, no fibers, could lead to weight add, could contain some amount of heavy metals) apply for little children too. Instead teach your children to drink more water and milk. I consider myself fortunate, as my daughter likes a lot milk and water and is not fond of fresh fruit juices.
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My dear friends. This article does not mean to make you sick and anxious. It is a reminder for everyone involved with baby foods to pay attention to what scientists have found out. The first one to be more attentive and aware are the baby food companies. They carry a huge responsibility to produce healthy and high-quality baby foods. I don’t think they want to be kept responsible for the damaged mental health of the new generation, that would cause many problems in the future.
The second group are the pediatricians and nutritionists that are supposed to stand next to parents to help them with their professional opinion about how to feed their little babies in healthy and proper way. My pediatrician, the one that prescribed me the infant formula for my daughter, had no idea about the components of the infant formula. She advice many parents on daily basis to feed their children with infant formula, but never bother to take a look on its content. Please you professionals of this field, be aware for the responsibility you have on the physical and mental development of the new generation.
The last groups, and probably the most important group are us: Parents. The studies mentioned in this article tells us that when it comes to our children’s welfare, nothing should be taken for granted . Check out the labels of every food you use for your children. Get prepared to understand at least the damaging elements for children’s health. If you have any doubt, do not hesitate to ask any professional source. Social Media has made it easier to reach almost everyone in the planet. So, please pay very special attention to the baby foods and older children foods. Consider the matter of children food as a vital aspect and do not get satisfied with general explanations. Make sure you understand everything in details about the food for your family.
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