Aluminium In Formula Milk?

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Posted: 19/10/2013 Print

Aluminium In Formula Milk?

Guest Blog By Sam Hadadi

Aluminium in Formula Milk: Who to Believe?

I don’t know how you found it, but becoming a new mum can be pretty overwhelming.

From the day your pregnancy test flashes up with a huge, expectant ‘positive’, your blissfully ignorant life comes to an end. All of a sudden, you’re bombarded with advice as midwives, doctors, parents, friends and well-meaning old ladies at the bus stop all plough in to have their say.

And, of course, it doesn’t change when the baby arrives. In fact, it gets harder still. There are the competitive Milestone Mums (“My baby could say “water” when he was still in the womb”), and then there’s the parenting methods – are you a tough love ‘Gina Ford’ kinda mum, or can you not bear the thought of hearing your child cry out?

You see, however you look at it, becoming a mum (and a dad, probably) is one huge learning curve. In fact, it’s such a steep curve that you need some reassuring constants to hand, things to help so you have one less thing to get confused about.

The reassuring constants

You know, like brands such as Pampers helping baby stay dry well through the night, and the lovely bubble baths helping to make bedtime a fun experience. Oh, and it goes without saying that the formula milk companies should be doing their damndest to ensure that your baby gets the best start in life.

Except, it seems, they’re not…

Shocking, isn’t it?

According to recent news reports, scientists believe that babies may be needlessly exposed to dangerous levels of aluminium in infant formula. Yep, aluminium – that metallic substance! - in formula milk, of all things.

In a study by Keele University, brainy types examined the aluminium content of over 30 brands of formula milk (so you can betcha bottom dollar that all the most popular brands are in there) and found that, all too often, it was far too high.

Linked to cancer and Alzheimer's in later life, aluminium is definitely one to avoid. It’s not exactly the ideal nutrient for your little bundle of joy to be chugging down and the scientists who conducted the study have called it a “potential time bomb.” Further studies1 seem to be of the same opinion.

I find this revelation particularly startling because my son was formula fed pretty much from birth. Does this mean he’s now at risk? Did I unwittingly endanger his life? And what choice did I have, if most of the companies are at fault?

Of course, every study has its critics, and this one is being fiercely contested by the government bods over at the Food Standards Agency.  In fact, the FSA recently looked at aluminium in formula milk and concluded there was no cause for concern.

In a statement, a spokesman for the FSA said: "the estimated exposures of infants to aluminium from the dietary sources did not indicate toxicological concerns or a need for a change in government advice.”

So, who to believe? And do we push the panic buttons or not?

I’m sure that you will get the breastfeeding advocates wading in, saying that this proves that “breast is best”, but until there’s further evidence to suggest formula milk is dangerous, then hold your horses.

As with every bit of advice I’ve been given since becoming a mum, I’ll say just one thing – take it all with a pinch of salt and enjoy those precious moments with your baby. You don’t get them back.


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Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

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Sam Hadadi is an ex-BBC journalist and now a freelance writer specialising in fitness and food.

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