Will Rice Cereal Hurt My Child?

May 11, 2016

Answer:

There is currently no evidence that the levels of arsenic found in rice cereal will hurt children.

 

Recently an article published in JAMA Pediatrics has received a lot of media attention in regards to arsenic levels in rice cereal. The article states that researches have found that babies who are fed rice-based cereals have higher arsenic levels in their urine compared to babies who have not been fed rice-based cereals. The problem with the research is that it does not link whether the levels of arsenic found in rice-based cereals are related to any side effects. The studies referenced in the article that have shown harmful effects of arsenic levels such as lower IQ levels, respiratory problems, and immune system problems all had arsenic levels 625-944 times higher than the highest levels of arsenic found in rice-based cereals. I would love for there to be absolutely no arsenic levels in any of the foods that any of us consume but the reality is that arsenic is found in foods containing rice as well as seafood. These levels are typically very low, such as in this study, and don't harm us. It is only when we have very high levels of arsenic, typically from polluted ground water, that we have seen humans be injured. Until we have studies which show that the levels of arsenic found in these products have caused harm I can not make a recommendation to avoid these products. 

 

Disclosures:

I have no disclosures besides the fact that I have fed my child rice cereal and have not witnessed any adverse effects.

 

References:

1. JAMA Pediatr. April 25;2016

2. IQ Environ Health. 2014;13(1):23

 

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