Posts Tagged ‘
infant formula ’
Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Bisphenol A, or BPA, has been slowly disappearing from toys, food packaging and food service items since it was revealed to have health risks including cancer, sexual dysfunction, and heart disease. The issue is particularly important for children, as BPA levels–detectable in the blood and urine of pregnant women, and in the umbilical cord blood of infants–is believed to impact fetal and child development alike.
The fight to have BPA banned from all food service items was escalated late last week when Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban it. The Washington Post reports that Markey’s argument is not based on the health risks of BPA, but rather is based on the obsolescence of the material:
Markey did not premise his request on the chemical’s potential dangers. Instead, he used a provision that allows people to petition for changes to food additive rules if it can be shown that an additive’s old use has been abandoned. Markey’s office polled the food industry and found that major manufacturers no longer use BPA in their food packaging. Using this “abandonment” clause enables the government to sidestep the debate over whether BPA is safe and still bar the chemical’s use.
In three separate petitions, Markey is asking FDA to ban the chemical’s use in the packages of three types of household products: infant formula and baby/toddler food, canned foods and beverages, and small reusable food containers.
The four companies that make nearly all the nation’s formula said they no longer use BPA, according to the petition. Seven other companies that make canned foods said they either no longer use BPA or they are phasing it out. Seven firms that make reusable containers, such as Tupperware and Glad, said they have either never used BPA or have stopped using it.
The FDA has previously stipulated that BPA carries health risks, but has stopped short of banning it saying that it is safe in small doses.
Image: Plastic baby bottle, via Shutterstock.
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Thursday, February 16th, 2012
Foods made with organic brown rice syrup, including infant formulas and cereal bars, may contain particularly high levels of inorganic arsenic, a new study finds.
Chronic exposure to even low levels of inorganic arsenic has been linked to increased risk of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, MyHealthNewsDaily reports.
Brown rice syrup is often included in organic products as an alternative to high fructose corn syrup.
This study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that some cereal bars made with brown rice syrup “have concentrations of arsenic that are 12 times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safe drinking water limit of 10 parts per billion,” MyHealthNewsDaily reports. There are currently no U.S. regulations on the amount of arsenic allowed in food.
Lead researcher Brian Jackson of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire says his team analyzed the arsenic in 17 infant formulas, 29 cereal bars and three energy “shot” products, all of which contain organic brown rice syrup, rice flour, rice flakes, or grains of rice. Previous research found that rice is a major source of arsenic in the diet.
The arsenic content of baby formulas made with organic brown rice syrup is especially worrisome, Jackson says.
Recent research suggests arsenic exposure early in life may increase the risk for health problems later on. Formula may be a baby’s sole food over a critical period of development, and their small size means they may consume more arsenic per kilogram of body weight than an adult eating foods with similar arsenic levels, the researchers said.
It’s hard to say what effect arsenic in foods may have on adults, Jackson said. If guidelines are set for acceptable levels of arsenic in food, they may be higher than most of the levels found in this study, around 200 ppb, Jackson said.
“I don’t think eating the occasional cereal bar has any real risk to it,” Jackson said. For those concerned about arsenic exposure, Jackson recommends making sure meals are not rice-based. For parents, Jackson said to avoid infant formulas that contain rice syrup.
Image: Infant formula via Shutterstock.
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Friday, January 20th, 2012
As many as 15 percent of parents who struggle to make ends meet add water to their babies’ formula, using “formula stretching” to get more out of their infant food purchases, a new study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics has found.
The study followed Cincinnati families who qualify for federal food assistance and free formula through a program called WIC. MSNBC.com reports that the assistance isn’t enough for many families:
Even though the majority of parents were receiving help through foods stamps and WIC, many did not have enough food to feed their families. In fact, some 65 percent of families ran out of WIC-supplied infant formula most months. And the result, in many cases, was that parents diluted or cut back on formula for their infants.
This kind of formula stretching may have consequences for the infants, Beck said.
“There will be a subset of children who will have what is called ‘failure to thrive,’” Beck explained. “More often, though, the ramifications of this tend to be less visible — problems with cognition and behavior. In some it may lead to obesity later in life.”
While some might point to breast feeding as a solution, not every mom is in the position to do this for her child. In some jobs it’s virtually impossible to express milk during the day when a mom is away from her baby.
“Clearly, we encourage and actively support breastfeeding,” Beck said. “The reality is that a relatively low percentage of our patients breastfeed by the time they reach us. If they do, we continue to encourage it and have a breastfeeding clinic if they need it. Although they likely wouldn’t require formula, we need to do education and a nutritional assessment for mom. Also, as the first year progresses, even fewer families continue to nurse.”
Image: Baby bottle, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, December 29th, 2011
Despite laboratory research by the company that makes Enfamil powdered infant formula that showed the powder to be free of the harmful environmental bacteria Cronobacter, more cases of ill babies have parents remaining confused over the product’s safety. Last week, Wal-Mart recalled the formula until the investigation is clearly resolved. The Washington Post reports on the additional illnesses:
An Oklahoma baby is the third infant this month sickened by a rare type of bacteria sometimes associated with tainted powdered infant formula.
The child, from Tulsa County, was infected with Cronobacter sakazakii but fully recovered, health officials said Wednesday. An Illinois child also rebounded after being sickened by the bacteria. A Missouri infant who was 10 days old died.
The Missouri child, Avery Cornett of Lebanon, had consumed Enfamil Newborn powdered infant formula made by Illinois-based Mead Johnson. Powdered formula has been suspected in illnesses caused by the bacteria in years past.
But health officials say the Oklahoma child had not consumed Enfamil. And Mead Johnson this week reported that its own testing found no bacteria in the product.
U.S. officials are awaiting results from their own testing of powdered formula and distilled water — also known as ‘nursery water’ — used to prepare it.
The cases occurred in roughly the same region of the country. At this point, it’s not clear that they are connected, said Barbara Reynolds, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman.
Symptoms can include irritability, lethargy, fever, vomiting and seizures. The infection can be treated with antibiotics, but it’s still deemed extremely dangerous to babies less than 1 month old and those born premature. An estimated 40 percent of illnesses from the bacteria end in death.
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Wednesday, December 28th, 2011
A week after Wal-Mart stores pulled cans of Enfamil powdered formula in the wake of a newborn’s death, the company that manufactures the formula said it had conducted extensive lab tests, finding the product to be safe.
The company, Mead Johnson, tested for an environmental bacterium called Cronobacter, which can be fatal, and found no traces of it in the samples they tested.
Federal regulators are continuing their investigation of the product, The New York Times reports:
Chris Perille, a spokesman for Mead Johnson, said the company had tested the same batch of formula as public health authorities. The negative test for Cronobacter confirmed results the company got before it shipped the batch of Enfamil Premium Newborn powdered formula.
“We hold samples of every batch,” he said on Sunday in a telephone interview. “There’s only one batch of one product that’s being checked out.”
Mr. Perille said that Mead Johnson had not been given a time frame for when the F.D.A. and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would finish their reviews, which probably include water samples and other environmental tests.
No other “serious” complaints have been reported related to the batch of Enfamil Premium Newborn that was being tested, he said.
Image: Powdered infant formula, via Shutterstock.
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