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A new report, issued by the Environmental Defense Fund, probably has some parents ready to get litigious. The report explains that in looking at over 10 years of FDA data, from 2003 to 2013, approximately 20 percent of the 2,000 baby food products tested contained lead. That's one in every five products. Unfortunately, neither the FDA's data, nor did the report, name the names of the offending products.
Before parents start climbing the walls, clearing out the cabinets, and calling their lawyers, know that the products still fell within what the FDA determined to be an acceptable level of lead contamination. However, what may come as a real surprise is that the baby food products tested had an overall higher average for testing positive for lead than adult food products, which came in at about 14 percent.
Leading the Fight Against Lead
For centuries, lead has been used for countless applications. The Roman Empire used lead in their plumbing system. Up until the 1970s, lead was incredibly common in paint, and as a result, exposed children to lead paint chips and lead dust. Before that, lead was even commonly found in cosmetics, and many other regular items.
Since discovering the link between lead and cognitive and behavioral problems, the legislature, the FDA, and other agencies, have worked to reduce lead levels, and have enjoyed quite a bit of success. In the late 70's, nearly 90 percent U.S. children had elevated lead levels in their blood. However, after extensive regulations limiting the use of lead, in 2012, the rate of children in the U.S. with elevated blood lead levels fell to less than one percent. To the surprise of nearly everyone, when leaded gasoline emissions were regulated, there was a significant drop in violent crime, which unbeknownst to researchers at the time, was attributed to those lead emissions.
Despite the FDA standard's permitting low levels of lead in food products, the newest research is showing that even at low levels, lead toxicity can lead to developmental issues, including a lower IQ and behavioral problems. Fortunately, parents can request that their children's pediatrician check for lead levels during blood testing.