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Oh, Baby: There May Be Arsenic in Your Formula

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Arsenic in baby formulaA new study suggests that organic brown rice syrup — a sweetener used in many organic and gluten-free foods, including baby formula — may be a hidden source of arsenic.

No surprise here: arsenic is not good for you. In high doses, of course, it’s a deadly poison, but even at lower levels exposure to arsenic can raise the risks of cancer and heart disease.

It’s especially dangerous for young children in whom chronic arsenic exposure has been linked to lower IQ and poor intellectual function. And because arsenic can occur naturally in groundwater — where it can poison people via drinking water or through food grown in arsenic-contaminated soil — it can be difficult to avoid.

That’s why a new study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives indicating that organic brown rice syrup — a sweetener used in many organic and gluten-free foods, including baby formula — can be a source of arsenic is so worrying. Researchers from Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School looked at foods that use organic brown rice syrup and found evidence that some baby formulas, cereal bars and energy shots all contained levels of arsenic that were significantly higher than the 10-parts-per-billion federal limit for drinking or bottled water.

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