• 1 In 3 Kids Have Elevated Levels Of Lead In Blood, As FDA Investigates Lead-Tainted Fruit Pouches

    June 12, 2024
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    According to a UNICEF report, 800 million children globally may be at serious risk due to lead exposure. In the U.S., the FDA recalled three brands of fruit pouches after they were found to contain lead levels up to 200 times higher than the agency’s action level.

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    by Dr. Joseph Mercola

    Story at a glance:

    • In October 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recall for WanaBana apple-cinnamon fruit puree pouches after they were found to contain high lead levels. Two brands, Schnucks and Weis, were also recalled.
    • Children who consumed the lead-contaminated fruit pouches experienced symptoms including headaches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, changes in activity level and anemia.
    • According to a UNICEF report, 1 in 3 children have elevated levels of lead in their blood, and up to 800 million children globally can be at serious risk due to lead exposure.
    • Edetate disodium (EDTA), N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and sauna bathing can help detoxify lead from your body. It’s also crucial to pinpoint the local source of lead to prevent its detrimental impacts.

    Many parents turn to fruit pouches whenever their children ask for a quick snack. These travel-friendly, resealable snacks are made from fruit purees designed to take the edge off your child’s hunger in a pinch.

    They come in eye-catching and attractive packaging and are sweetened to suit kids’ flavor preferences.

    But fruit pouches aren’t as great as they seem to be. Aside from being an inferior substitute for real fruits and fresh fruit juices, these seemingly harmless snacks can mess up your child’s health, as they are found to be contaminated with extremely high levels of lead.

    FDA recalls three brands of fruit pouches due to lead contamination

    In October 2023, the FDA warned parents and guardians to avoid buying WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches, after it was discovered that the snacks contained high levels of lead.

    According to the FDA:

    “Parents and caregivers of toddlers and young children who may have consumed WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches should contact their child’s healthcare provider about getting a blood test.

    “Lead is toxic to humans and can affect people of any age or health status. Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health.”

    Healthy Holistic Living reported that at least seven cases of severe lead poisoning linked to these fruit pouches were identified in more than five states, including Arizona, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri and North Carolina.

    WanaBana then voluntarily recalled their fruit puree pouches, which were sold in grocery chains like Dollar Tree as well as online retailers like Amazon.

    Following these findings, the FDA also issued a recall for two more brands of fruit pouches — Schnucks cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches and variety pack, and Weis cinnamon applesauce pouches.

    As reported by Healthy Holistic Living:

    “Schnucks, one of the affected brands, reported that its supplier, Purcell International, notified them of elevated levels of lead found in the cinnamon raw material used by Austrofood S.A.S, the manufacturer of the applesauce cinnamon pouches.

    “Consumers who have purchased the recalled apple cinnamon fruit pouches are urged to discard them immediately and refrain from consuming the products.”

    Local state investigation reveals the alarming source

    The suspicion that fruit pouches may be contaminating children arose after local health experts from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) saw elevated lead levels in four children, which indicated acute lead toxicity.

    “A dedicated health specialist named Alan Huneycutt from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services played a key role in figuring out where the lead was coming from. His work in children’s environmental health really made a difference,” Healthy Holistic Living reported.

    With the help of a special tool that is used to help identify lead in paint, the NCDHHS team investigated different things in the children’s environment that could be causing high lead levels.

    They looked at different factors, including the children’s home, paint, dust, soil and water, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

    After interviewing one of the children’s mothers, who shared that the WanaBana fruit pouches are among the foods that her children ate regularly, they considered testing the product.

    When they confirmed the lead came from the fruit pouches, the NCDHHS immediately reported their findings to the FDA.

    Tainted fruit pouches had 200 times higher lead levels than what is allowed

    By December 2023, there were 82 confirmed complaints of adverse effects reported to the FDA about the lead-contaminated fruit snacks.

    The number rose to 136 by March, along with “345 probable cases, and 38 suspected cases.”

    This totaled 519 cases from 44 different states, including Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

    The FDA reported:

    “The testing results previously reported for the sample of recalled WanaBana cinnamon apple puree pouch collected from Dollar Tree had a lead concentration of 2.18 ppm which, for context, is more than 200 times greater than the action level of 0.01 ppm that the FDA has proposed in draft guidance for fruit purees and similar products intended for babies and young children.”

    According to a USA Today article, the contamination was traced back to the Austrofoods processing plant in Ecuador, where the cinnamon used in all three brands was produced.

    Helena Bottemiller Evich, founder and editor-in-chief of Food Fix, commented:

    “Cinnamon has a track record of lead contamination — whether from soil uptake into the plant, environmental exposure or even other things getting mixed in with ground cinnamon — but the levels here would likely be off the charts compared to what is typically found.”

    The FDA is also exploring the possibility that the lead contamination may have occurred due to “economically motivated adulteration.” This is when “someone intentionally leaves out, takes out, or substitutes a valuable ingredient or part of a food.”

    An example would be using lead-based dyes to improve the color and appearance of spices like turmeric or chili powder.

    Symptoms of lead toxicity

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the children who consumed the lead-contaminated fruit pouches experienced symptoms including:

    • Headaches.
    • Nausea.
    • Diarrhea.
    • Vomiting.
    • Anemia.
    • Changes in activity level.

    Other potential symptoms include stomach and muscle aches, fatigue, irritability and weight loss.

    In more extreme cases, however, such as when a child is repeatedly exposed to high amounts of lead, more severe symptoms may arise.

    Lead has a cumulative effect on multiple organ systems and young children are particularly vulnerable to its effects.

    When it enters your child’s body, it can spread to their kidney, brain, liver and bones, which is why it can cause hematological, gastrointestinal and neurological effects.

    Seizures, encephalopathy and coma may also occur, which can result in brain damage.

    1 in 3 children worldwide have high lead levels

    There’s no question that lead poisoning is now a grave public health issue, and to see toxic levels of this damaging heavy metal in foods made for children is nothing short of appalling.

    However, this has been a long-term concern — for years, lead has been used for various industrial applications, such as for making paint, cables and batteries, as well as a gasoline additive.

    In 2020, UNICEF and Pure Earth released a report titled “The Toxic Truth,” which explores the severity of lead contamination in children all around the globe.

    According to UNICEF, children worldwide are suffering from lead poisoning on a “massive and previously unknown scale.”

    The report states that 1 in 3 children have lead blood levels of more than 5 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dL), which constitutes immediate action. Up to 800 million children globally can be at serious risk due to lead exposure, and almost half of them are living in South Asia.

    However, the CDC identifies a blood reference value of 3.5 ug/dL to be potentially dangerous — which means that the report’s estimates are even higher.

    This is devastating, as the developing bodies of children could be more severely compromised.

    According to a 2023 study published in Environmental Advances:

    “Children are more susceptible to lead than adults for several reasons, including the fact that children constantly put their hands in their mouths, the fact that children’s guts absorb lead more easily than adults, and the fact that children’s [central nervous systems] CNSs are more sensitive to toxins than adults are still developing.”

    Lead levels in adults are also concerning

    Although the damage may seem far less severe in adults than in children, it can progress to severe health problems, like cardiovascular complications and even death.

    A 2018 paper published in The Lancet found that lead contamination in adults is associated with a higher risk of mortality.

    One in five deaths, and over 1 in 4 cardiovascular-related deaths are related to lead toxicity. Lead contamination can also put you at risk of:

    The World Health Organization says that there’s no such thing as a safe level of exposure. It’s such a powerful toxin that even low-level exposure can inhibit cognitive development, leading to reduced IQ scores. It can also increase your risk of violent and criminal behavior later in life.

    What’s more, lead can have multigenerational impacts. Chronic exposure, even at low levels, can result in health effects, yet the symptoms don’t manifest until years after exposure.

    Research has also demonstrated that lead:

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    How to get lead out of your body

    Whether you’ve been exposed to high or low levels of lead, the first step that needs to be taken is to get tested, Have your children tested as well, ideally at ages 1 and 2 and then again at ages 3 and 4.

    The CDC notes that a lead level of 3.5 µg/dL or higher in children is problematic, while in adults, the Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance says a level of 5 µg/dL or higher is considered dangerous.

    If you have elevated levels, seek guidance from a qualified healthcare practitioner who can help eliminate the toxin without causing more harm. Chelation therapy using EDTA is one option.

    EDTA is an agent that binds with calcium and some heavy metals. However, it also releases important minerals from the body; hence your nutritional status needs to be monitored by a physician.

    NAC, a precursor to glutathione that your body uses for efficient detoxification, is also an ideal option. You can try sauna bathing as well, as it is a nontoxic strategy that can help eliminate lead and other toxins from your body.

    Eliminate lead-containing items in your home and test your drinking water

    In addition to taking the necessary steps to detox lead from your body, you also need to make sure that you’re no longer adding more.

    It’s crucial to pinpoint the local source of exposure to prevent its detrimental impacts, especially to your children. “In many cases, children are exposed to more than one source, making the challenge even more complicated,” the UNICEF report states.

    The most common sources of lead in and around your home include cigarette smoke, jewelry, toys, cosmetics and clothes.

    Lead paint from old houses is another common source, especially if you live in a home that was built before 1978. It needs to be professionally removed, as even the dust can be highly toxic.

    It’s also important to have your drinking water tested for lead. All across the U.S., millions of old water service lines are made from lead, and when they corrode, they could be bringing contaminated water into your home on a daily basis.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that structures built before 1986 most likely have lead pipes for their plumbing.

    Brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and plumbing that use lead solder are also a source of contamination.

    Since lead cannot be seen, tasted or smelled when dissolved in water, it’s important to have your water tested to ensure it does not have harmful quantities of lead.

    Your safest and most economical choice to get lead out of your water supply is to use a high-quality filter rated for lead removal.

    Always use filtered cold water for drinking or cooking, and don’t mix infant formula using unfiltered water from the tap.

    Originally published by Mercola.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children’s Health Defense.

    “© [Article Date] Children’s Health Defense, Inc. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. Your donation will help to support us in our efforts.

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