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Study finds arsenic in some toddler formulas

Friday, February 17, 2012

There's an alarming study out that says arsenic has been found in some toddler formulas and in some popular cereal bars. The study finds the food items all have one common ingredient.

That study from Dartmouth researchers found arsenic in two organic formulas for toddlers. The formulas are Baby's Only Organic Dairy Toddler Formula and Baby's Only Organic Soy Toddler Formula. Both are made by Nature's One.

One formula was six times higher than the EPA limit for arsenic in drinking water. Researchers say it came from the organic brown rice syrup which is an ingredient in both of the formulas.

Arsenic is a known contaminant found in rice. This is worrisome for toddlers because they are especially vulnerable to arsenic's toxic effects.

"Baby formula is the main source of nutrition for many babies in the first year of life and that's a period where you want to avoid poisons like arsenic," said ABC Chief Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser.

Nature's Own said in a statement that it uses an independent lab that found undectable levels of arsenic in its formulas. Meantime, the Dartmouth researchers also found arsenic in cereal bars and energy bars. Adults are not as vulnerable as toddlers to the effects of arsenic.

Last year, Dartmouth researchers found that Americans may have a significant arsenic exposure because of rice. Rice takes up arsenic from the soil. It's often grown on land previously used for cotton, and had been treated with arsenic-containing pesticides.

So what can consumers do? First, eat a variety of food. That goes especially for people on a gluten-free diet because many gluten-free foods are rice-based. Parents should avoid baby foods with organic brown rice syrup, and there are a number of rice-fortified baby foods.

And here's a concern, rice syrup is being used more often as a replacement for high fructose corn syrup. Baby formula is the main source of nutrition for many babies in the first year of life and that's a period where you want to avoid poisons like arsenic.

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