Babies Fed Formula have Higher Arsenic Levels

babies fed formula have higher arsenic levels

Researcher find that babies fed formula have higher arsenic levels. Credit: Dartmouth College

 

Researchers find that babies fed formula have higher arsenic levels than babies fed breast milk, both well water and the baby formula itself contributes to the higher levels.

Arsenic is a chemical element that we’ve found use for in everything from electronic devices to pesticide production. The element is found naturally in bedrock which is why arsenic contamination of well water happens regularly. Arsenic exposure is dangerous for people, the chemical is toxic classified as a group 1 carcinogen. In the US the EPA have legislated a maximum allowed concentration of 10 ppb of arsenic in drinking water. This limit isn’t enforced in private well water, a common way to get drinking water in many rural areas of the US. Now new research from Dartmouth College finds that infants fed baby formula have a much higher exposure to arsenic than infants being breast-fed.

Babies Fed Formula have Higher Arsenic Levels

The research was published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

In the first study analyzing the urine of infants researchers find that babies fed formula have higher arsenic levels than babies being breast fed.

In the study researchers measured arsenic levels in home tap water, 72 six-week old infants and in breast milk of nine women in New Hampshire. In breast-fed infants urinary arsenic levels were 7.5 times lower than in formula-fed infants.

Though the arsenic levels of tap water contributed the most to the high levels measured in the study arsenic were also found in the powdered formula itself. Both the water and the formula contributed to the infants’ exposure to arsenic.

“This study’s results highlight that breastfeeding can reduce arsenic exposure even at the relatively low levels of arsenic typically experienced in the United States,” says lead author Professor Kathryn Cottingham.

Researchers advise that people who get drinking water from a private well have it tested for arsenic since arsenic exposure is linked to increased fetal mortality, decreased birth weight and diminished cognitive function.