Many parents put their children's health before their own, and for good reason.
The foods young children eat while they're still developing has a considerable impact on their long-term health, which is why so many parents make sure their kids get sufficient amounts of nutrition while they're growing up.
But what if the foods you think are healthy aren't as safe for your child as you think?
According to a new report, the billion dollar packaged baby food industry may be doing more harm than good.
Now that we're heading into a new school year, or preparing for the coming ones, it's important we send our kids off with nutritious meals that will be beneficial for their cognitive and physical development.
Heavy Metals In Popular Food Products
A new Consumer Reports study tested 50 different packaged foods made for young children that contained "measurable levels" of certain heavy metals.
And nearly 68% of the products tested were deemed to have "worrisome levels" of dangerous heavy metals like lead, cadmium, or inorganic arsenic.
Some of these foods would pose a potential health risk to a child consuming only one serving or less per day.
These concerning levels in popular snacks, cereals, prepared entrées, and packaged fruits and vegetables, mostly marketed for babies and toddlers, is believed to possibly pose severe health risks in the long run.
"Babies and toddlers are particularly vulnerable due to their smaller size and developing brains and organ systems," James E. Rogers, Ph.D., director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports, says. "They also absorb more of the heavy metals that get into their bodies than adults do."
While our bodies do need certain amounts of heavy metals, like zinc and iron, to function properly, other types of heavy teals like lead and mercury can be toxic.
"Exposure to even small amounts of these heavy metals at an early age may increase the risk of several health problems, especially lower IQ and behavior problems, and have been linked to autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder," the report states.
Consumer Reports adds that, "regularly consuming even small amounts over a long period of time may raise the risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancer; cognitive and reproductive problems; and type 2 diabetes, among other conditions."
Products You Should Be Wary Of
The report specifically warns about these popular packaged foods:
- Earth's Best Organic Chicken & Brown Rice / Earth's Best Turkey / Earth's Best Organic Sweet Potatoes, 1st Stage / Earth's Best Organic Whole Grain Rice Cereal / Earth's Best Organic Sunny Days Snack Bars, Strawberry
- Gerber Chicken & Rice / Gerber Turkey & Rice / Gerber Lil' Meals White Turkey Stew with Rice & Vegetables / Gerber Carrot, Pear & Blackberry / Gerber Carrots Peas & Corn with Lil' Bits
- Sprout Organic Baby Food Garden Vegetables Brown Rice with Turkey
- Plum Organics Just Sweet Potato Organic Baby Food
- Beech-Nut Classics Sweet Potatoes
- Happy Baby Organics Superfood Puffs, Apple & Broccoli / Happy Baby Organics Superfood Puffs, Purple Carrot & Blueberry.
According to the report, conventional and organic products containing rice or sweet potatoes contained the highest amounts of heavy metals.
Consumer Reports contacted the FDA, and the agency responded that it will "reduce the health risks these elements present."
Even many of the food manufacturers that were contacted said they would support stricter guidelines.
What This Means
Of course, these findings would make any health conscious parent worried.
While it's important to be cognizant of what you're feeding your kids, Dickerson adds that there's no need to panic.
Children who consume these foods are not guaranteed to develop problems in the future, this study simply notes that consuming large quantities of these heavy metals may increase the risk.
The study recommends limiting rice cereal, packaged snacks, and fruit juice intake from your child's diet.
Instead, young children should be given more snacks like fresh fruit and hard-boiled eggs.
How often do your children eat packaged food?
[H/T: Fox News]