The presence of heavy metals in infant formulas has been a long-standing cause for concern. Even back in 1988, researchers discovered that aluminum contaminated many formulas, though some more than others. This early study noted that in human breast milk, aluminum appeared in fairly low amounts – about 50 micrograms per liter.
Way back then, researchers from the University of Alberta discovered that highly processed formulas, such as soy formula, preterm infant formula and formulas for specific metabolic disorders, contained up to 2,346 micrograms per liter. Now, that may may seem rather concerning – given that it is many times more than what is found naturally in human breast milk. In fact, it is not just concerning; it is downright alarming.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the EPA’s current limits on aluminum in drinking water are between 0.05 milligrams and 0.2 milligrams per liter. A limit of 0.2 milligrams equates to about 200 micrograms. The ATSDR reports that the FDA’s limit on aluminum for bottled water is also 0.2 milligrams per liter.
For some bizarre reason, there is no FDA limit on the amount of aluminum that can be added to food or medicine – which is why even though there is a limit on what is allowed in water, there is no limit on what can be present in baby formula. Supposedly, the limit in water is simply in place for taste and visual appearance. However, in spite of this, the effects of aluminum still seem to be poorly understood. From the ATSDR’s own website:
We do not know if aluminum will cause birth defects in people.
That’s just great, isn’t it? They don’t know if it will cause birth defects, and they don’t know what effects it will have in children either. The agency states that in animal studies, young animals exposed to aluminum appeared to be less active and were weaker and less coordinated. Exposure also appeared to negatively impact memory. Might that suggest that aluminum has some kind of negative impact on neurological function, or at the very least, the peripheral nervous system? You’d think so, but the bureaucratic government agency simply states that these effects “are similar to those that have been seen in adults.” Apparently, that makes it okay.
Sadly, because of this kind of nonsense, aluminum has continued to remain prevalent in infant formulas. A 2010 study from Keele University found that high levels of aluminum were present in 30 of the top-selling and most widely available infant formulas. Of course, manufacturers maintain that the toxic heavy metal is not “knowingly added” to the formula. It’s quite obvious that while they may not be intentionally adding this toxin to these formulas – many of which are often given to sick babies – they are likely turning a blind eye to their questionable suppliers.
It takes a special kind of person to willingly and knowingly give newborns toxic food.
Many researchers believe that this contamination may be coming from somewhere within the supply chain. The researchers from the University of Alberta noted almost 30 years ago that “raw materials such as soybean, additives such as calcium and phosphorus, manufacturing processes and storage containers are potential sources of contamination of infant formulas.”
Professor Exley, from Keele University, a world-renowned expert on aluminum, believes that regulatory bodies need to do their part to ensure that manufacturers actually try to reduce the amount of this toxin that is present in baby products. Exley states, “There is evidence of both immediate and delayed toxicity in infants, and especially preterm infants, exposed to aluminium.”