Kids’ drinks loaded with lead

Posted on July 16, 2010. Filed under: Health, Medical |


There are plenty of reasons not to give a child juice — but the latest has nothing to do with high sugar and low nutrition.

A new study finds that up to 85 percent of all children’s drinks and fruit snacks are so heavy with lead that they should actually have warning labels under California law.

The Environmental Law Foundation purchased 398 fruit drinks and snacks, including fruit cocktail and baby food, from stores throughout California, then sent the products to an EPA-certified lab for testing.

What they found should serve as a wake-up call for any parent or grandparent — because 120 of the 146 brands tested had unsafe levels of lead.

These weren’t bargain brands from dollar stores, but labels you might find in any home in the nation, rich or poor — from the swanky 365 Everyday Value brand sold at Whole Foods stores, to the Great Value label featured at Walmart.

Gerber, Trader Joe’s, Kirkland, Safeway and Mott’s also made the list — just to name a few. Even a dozen organic juices and snacks were found to have high levels of lead.

You can see the full list on the organization’s Web site.

Remember, when it comes to lead, no level is safe. Exposure to this heavy metal can harm anyone, but it’s especially dangerous to children since it can slow and stall development. Lead can cause stomachaches, headaches, memory loss and poor learning. One study even linked lead exposure to obesity later in life.

High levels of lead can cause organ damage, seizures and even death.

Just one more reason to skip the juice — and, of course, keep a close eye on toys. Years after the lead toy scandal, common children’s products are still being recalled for excessive lead with alarming regularity. In recent months, children’s tiaras, chairs, belts, teacups and even soccer balls have all been recalled due to unsafe levels of lead.

You can see the latest warnings and recalls on the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site.

If you’re concerned about your child or grandchild’s lead exposure, ask your pediatrician about a test. It’s a blood test, and small children usually aren’t too happy about those — but it could spare your little one a lifetime of misery, poor health and developmental problems.

House Calls with Edward Martin <housecalls@healthiernews.com>

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