Thursday, September 20th, 2012
By Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN
Move over juice—rice and rice products are now garnering considerable attention for being a source of arsenic, thanks to a recent Consumer Reports article. Following a report they published last January about concerning levels of arsenic in both apple and grape juices, the popular magazine now reveals surprising findings about rice and its many forms in 60 products commonly found in grocery stores. Turns out there’s arsenic—and sometimes, “worrisome amounts,” according to the report—in a range of rice products, including organic rice baby cereal, rice breakfast cereal, brown rice, and rice milk.
The report itself—and no doubt the media frenzy surrounding it—has led many of us to scratch our heads, and wonder if we unknowingly exposed our families to a potentially dangerous chemical. You may have even thrown out all the rice and rice products in your cupboard. But are we overreacting?
Before you jump on what’s sure to be an anti-rice bandwagon, it’s important to understand what arsenic is, and to know that it’s not all created equally.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, arsenic is a chemical element naturally found in water, air, food, and soil. It also occurs as a result of contamination from human activity (such as burning coal, oil, or using pesticides that contain arsenic). Although found in both organic and inorganic forms, inorganic arsenic is the form that has been linked with higher rates of skin, bladder, and lung cancers; and heart disease. Some studies have also suggested that chronic exposure to arsenic can contribute to cognitive and other developmental disabilities.
Although arsenic works its way through soil and water into many healthful foods, including grains, fruits, and vegetables, the FDA, which has monitored arsenic levels in foods since 1991, says rice may be more susceptible to absorbing arsenic than other grains.
Despite the findings by Consumer Reports and its own, just-released preliminary study findings on an analysis of 200 grocery store items (with another 1,000 to go),the FDA won’t, at this time, tell Americans to forego rice and rice products. Instead, it urges them to consume a variety of grains as part of a well-balanced diet.
Consumer Reports, however, suggests limiting infants to no more than 1 serving a day of infant rice cereal. They also encourage diets with lower arsenic grain options, including wheat cereals, oatmeal, and corn grits. Daily rice drinks for children under age 5 are not recommended.
Until more information is known, it’s probably wise to heed the advice of both the FDA and Consumer Reports. Continue to feed your child—and yourself—a varied diet with foods from all the basic food groups. Also, mix up the foods you choose from each food group—that way you’ll consume different combinations of nutrients, and at the same time, limit your exposure to chemicals that may prove to be harmful.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says additional research is needed before recommendations can be made on the possible risks involved in consuming rice and rice products, including baby cereal.
If you’re concerned about arsenic in your favorite rice product, contact the manufacturer or the FDA. And if you decide to remove rice and rice products from your diet, be sure to fill the gap with other healthful whole grain foods to get complex carbohydrates, fiber, B vitamins, and other valuable nutrients.
Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, is a Parents advisor. You can follow her on Twitter at @elisazied.
Image: Rice via Shutterstock
Thursday, September 20th, 2012
The First Drug that Could Ease Social Withdrawal in Autism
An experimental drug that helps people with Fragile X syndrome showed promising results for a treatment for autism. (via Time)
Weight and Taste Sensitivity Are Linked, New Study Says
Obese children have less sensitive taste buds than kids of normal weight, and that may drive them to eat more. (via ABC News)
Study Finds Concerning Levels of Arsenic in Rice
After testing more than 200 samples of rice products, researchers found measurable amounts of arsenic in almost every single one. (via CBS News)
Cancers on the Rise in Pregnant Women
The number of pregnant women diagnosed with cancer has increased over the past few decades, likely due to the older age of expectant mothers and better detection methods. (via Reuters)
Report: Kids Should Only Eat Tuna Once a Month
New research suggests that kids should only eat light tuna once or twice a month to keep their mercury intake at a safe level. (via CNN)
Categories: GoodyBlog, News | Tags: arsenic, autism, cancer, childhood obesity, mercury, Noelia de la Cruz, obesity, overweight, Parents Daily News Roundup, Pregnancy, tuna
Thursday, February 16th, 2012
Arsenic Found in Organic Baby Food, Cereal Bars
You may think you’re being extra-healthy when you chose foods labeled “organic,” but some of these products contain arsenic, a compound that may increase the risk of cancer, a new study says.
Pregnant at Work? Why Your Job Could Be at Risk
Not all employers wish their pregnant employees well: the number of pregnancy-related discrimination charges have jumped by 35% in the past decade.
Day Care: Good Care Benefits Kids 30 Years Later — And Moms Too
Research has shown that high-quality early child care can have a significant impact on children’s well-being, and now a new study in the journal Child Development finds that it’s important for Mom too.
US Doctors ‘Firing’ Parents Who Refuse to Vaccinate Children
US pediatricians fed up with parents who refuse to vaccinate their children out of concern it can cause autism or other problems increasingly are “firing” such families from their practices, raising questions about a doctor’s responsibility to these patients.
How Child Abuse Primes the Brain for Future Mental Illness
Now, in the largest study yet to use brain scans to show the effects of child abuse, researchers have found specific changes in key regions in and around the hippocampus in the brains of young adults who were maltreated or neglected in childhood. These changes may leave victims more vulnerable to depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the study suggests.
15-Minute-Old Newborn Gets Pacemaker for the Heart
The name Jaya in Hindi means victorious. And little Jaya Maharaj was just that, when she became one of the smallest recipients of a pacemaker when she was just 15 minutes old.
Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Block of OTC Morning-After Pill Sparks Debate
The Obama administration’s top health official stopped plans Wednesday to let the Plan B morning-after pill move onto drugstore shelves next to the condoms.
Economic Strain Harms Parent-Child Relationship
University of Missouri researchers discovered parents who experience financial problems and depression are less likely to feel connected to their children, and their children are less likely to engage in prosocial behaviors, such as volunteering or helping others.
MyAutismTeam: A New Site for Families With Autism
MyAutismTeam, which slipped from beta-dom into official launch mode this week, is more than just a repository of recommendations about local therapists and accommodating Taekwondo studios and barbers; it’s also a social-media destination.
Headaches Common in Kids Months After Brain Injury
Kids who have a concussion or other traumatic brain injury are more likely to develop headaches for up to a year afterward than children who have had a bodily injury, according to a new study.
Arsenic in Rice May Pose Risk for Pregnant Women
Pregnant women who eat rice regularly may expose themselves and their fetuses to too much arsenic, possibly putting them at risk of premature births, researchers from Dartmouth College said.
Obese Pregnant Women Can Safely Diet: Study
Obese pregnant women can safely limit their weight gain by watching what they eat, an analysis of several clinical trials suggests.
Thursday, December 1st, 2011
High Levels of Arsenic Found in Fruit Juice
The apple and grape juice your kids are drinking may have arsenic at levels high enough to increase their risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, according to a new study by Consumer Reports.
Forceps Delivery Tied to Lower Brain Injury Risk
When babies need help coming into the world, forceps may carry less risk of newborn seizures compared with vacuum deliveries or Cesarean section, a new study suggests.
Study: 40% of Kids Who Attempt Suicide First Try in Elementary or Middle School
Almost 40% of kids attempting suicide make their first try in middle or even elementary school, according to research that suggests that kids who think they want to kill themselves are considering it long before previously assumed.
Student’s Death Turns Spotlight on Hazing
The death of a drum major in the Florida A&M marching band has turned a spotlight on a culture of hazing in the band and prompted four investigations into it.
Districts Pay Less in Poor Schools, Report Says
More state and local dollars are spent on salaries in higher-income areas, the federal Department of Education found.
Happy Meal Toys No Longer Free in San Francisco
A new San Francisco law goes into effect on Thursday that prevents fast-food restaurants from giving away trinkets, action figures and other toys in their kid’s meals unless their food meets nutritional requirements. Starting Thursday, parents who order Happy Meals at the 19 McDonald’s locations in San Francisco will have to request the toy and pay 10 cents.