A leading pediatrician responds.
This week, we were beyond disturbed that a CDC study found traces of a chemical called perchlorate in powdered baby formula. This is a chemical found in ROCKET FUEL.
The rocket fuel in powdered baby formula is 'safe,' according to Haley Curtis Stevens, spokesperson for the International Formula Council, which represents the infant formula industry. Stevens says the recently published CDC study provides no data on any adverse health effects that might develop from feeding these formulas to a baby.
Pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson says:
The study ("Perchlorate exposure from infant formula and comparisons with the perchlorate reference dose") published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (18 March 2009) looks at whether infants drinking powdered formula may be exposed to perchlorate levels higher than the perchlorate reference dose as established by the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the EPA, when perchlorate is found in a concentration of less than 15mcg/L, it is safe.
While this study showed that all formulas tested had perchlorate -- with cow's milk formulas containing particularly high levels -- none of the formulas came close to the EPA's safe limit (the highest was one cow's milk formula with a perchlorate concentration just above 5mcg/L). Furthermore, the study does not go into any detail about what effect perchlorate may have on infants' bodies at these doses.
Apparently, the researchers were concerned that when powdered infant formulas (containing perchlorate) were mixed with water (which also may have perchlorate), the dose of the chemical to a baby may be quite high. This is a reasonable concern. I always think it is important to identify chemical contaminants in our food and water supplies, and clearly the CDC agrees as the authors are all CDC researchers. But we must be careful not to infer that the presence of a contaminant means "toxic" or "harmful." Rather, this study simply opens a Pandora's box of other questions, the first of which is: what does this data mean?
Hopefully, further research will be done on this important issue ... because there's nothing more important to a mom than the health of her baby.