Recent research at Arizona State University revealed that some baby formulas have potentially harmful nanoparticles. A baby formula should have proteins, carbohydrates, essential minerals, and vitamins, but small particles are strange. According to the research, the particles contain hydroxyapatite, a slightly soluble mineral rich in calcium. The presence of these particles has left many parents worried about the health of their kids, as nanoparticles have always been a hot topic in the scientific community.
Other research reports claim that the nanoparticles contain silicon dioxide and nano titanium dioxide. Nanoparticles were found in Nestlé’s Gerber Good Start Soothe and Gerber Good Start Gentle, Walgreen’s, Well Beginnings Advantage, Similac Advance OptiGRO (liquid) and Similac Advance OptiGRO (powder) from Abbott Laboratories and Enfamil from Mead Johnson. Being key players in the baby formula market, many parents have already exposed their children to the possible dangers of these nanoparticles.
We should, therefore, understand parents who are concerned with these needle-like particles. Unfortunately, straightforward answers on the safety of the particles are yet to be found. It is true that kids need calcium in the diet, but must apparently not in the form of nanoparticles. Hydroxyapatite makes our bones and teeth strong, so how can it be safe for consumption, especially in children? How easily is it digested, and absorbed into the body? The FDA regards it as generally safe, but just how safe is safe, especially when we are talking about kids?
There is no scientific proof that these nanoparticles are safe or unsafe for consumption among children, but being nanoparticles, it is clear that they can reach almost every part of the body. This means that assuming that they are harmful, they are likely to affect many cells. The human body is however always well adapted to naturally occurring nanoparticles, and these particles are not likely to be as harmful as most parents think about them. Perhaps the only real concern they should have is the microscopic size of the particles.
According to the FDA, re-evaluation of the categorization of Hydroxyapatite as “Generally Safe” is required for the nanoscale form is required before it can be allowed in foods. This is rightly so, considering the recent concerns by SCCS (European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety) that this particular nonmaterial should be looked at keenly. In fact, the SCCS has already concluded that nano-hydroxyapatite should not be used in cosmetics after research revealed that the product interfered with the biological functions of rats.
Regulators still searching
Research on this topic is still ongoing, with some reports claiming that as soon as these nanoparticles reach the stomach, they are dissolved in the acidic medium so fast that they are transformed. However, some particles may still go through the gut unchanged and affect the child. These nanoparticles are so small they can penetrate the skin, the gut, the lungs and even the brain-blood barrier. As if that is not enough, the possible harmfulness of nanoparticles can be considered from various angles, such as electrical charge, surface area to volume ratio and other physical and chemical properties. Inhaling these particles could also be a source of harm. They, however, take a short time in the gut, though this does not make them safe.
On the other hand, others suggest that these hydroxyapatite nano-needles can be building blocks for calcium phosphate nanoparticles which form naturally in our bodies. Whether this is true or not, the safety of nanoparticles to our kids cannot be assumed.
If it is true that hydroxyapatite nano-needles are beneficial, then it is arguable that manufacturers are adding these nanoparticles to baby formulas knowingly. In fact, the particles are identical in shape and size, as if they are intentionally designed to be uniformly similar. However, there is no official confirmation that some manufacturers are adding these particles intentionally, as the FDA has already said that a re-evaluation of the product would be required before it is considered safe for human consumption. US parents also feel that nonscale food ingredients should be identified as such whenever they are used just like in Europe. Currently, FDA considers nanotechnology as an emerging field and as such it has not regulated it in any way. This explains why nanoparticles are already found in baby formulas without an official communication from the FDA on whether they should be included or not.
Honestly, the ingredients of a product like the baby formula should be thoroughly researched before it is made available. The whole subject of nanotechnology is not well understood, and we are already feeding our children on baby formulas containing nanomaterials. Children are very vulnerable, and we cannot afford to take their health for granted.
This research is just the beginning of a series of consumer campaigns that are expected to take place in the coming days. The Friends of the Earth plans to work in tandem with the Center for Food Safety, Food and Water Watch, the Center for International Environmental Law, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and several others in lobbying for support for the assessment of baby formulas with nanomaterials and proper regulation of nanomaterials. These organizations will also demand transparency in evaluation and labeling of products and require that no products should be released into the market until elaborate reports on the safety of their ingredients are published.
What is the position of the FDA on this issue?
It is surprising how unregulated the nanotechnology is in the USA. When other countries like France, Denmark and Belgium are implementing compulsory registries for nanomaterials, the FDA remains quiet on the issue. FDA should be more stringent in the regulation of nanoparticles otherwise the health of the most vulnerable people in the society is in doubt. Manufacturers are encouraged to consult the FDA before releasing any product with nanomaterials in the market. Clearly, encouragement is not enough.
So, which way to go for parents looking for baby formulas?
These new reports are making it difficult for parents to make a decision on which baby formulas to purchase. Perhaps the only formula that appears safe for now is the one that resembles the mother’s milk in several aspects. There is the possibility that baby formulas with hydroxyapatite nanoparticles are beneficial to the child, but there is also the possibility that they are harmful. You cannot think of the positive side without imagining the downside. The best thing is to be sure, and the way to be sure is to choose the baby formula that does not contain these nanoparticles. Earth’s Best Organic baby formula is one such baby formula.
In particular, the Organic Infant Formula With DHA & ARA is very much like the breast milk. It contains high-quality carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. For instance, it contains DHA & ARA which are naturally found in breast milk. They are crucial in the development of the brain and the eyes. The whey/casein ratio is almost identical to that of breast milk, and the formula is nutritionally complete, Kosher certified, iron fortified, USDA organic and easy to digest.
On the other hand, The Organic Soy Infant Formula With DHA & ARA is similar, while the Organic Sensitivity Infant Formula with DHA & ARA is a bit different, as it is manufactured using easy-to-digest carbohydrates and other food materials. It is also the first certified sensitive organic formula to be approved by the FDA, and it is prevalent among mothers and caregivers with fussy babies. None of these formulas contain potentially harmful herbicides or pesticides, and that is why they are the best baby formulas for parents to take the safety of their kids seriously. Choosing a baby formula which has already been found to contain nanoparticles is taking the health of your children with a grain of salt.
When you are looking for the best baby formula your child, you just have to be careful to ensure that you get all the fine details right. Remember that baby formula is not the best choice in the first place, and choosing one which you are not sure of is digging the hole you are in further. Since breastfeeding is not always possible and understandably so in this fast-paced world, care should be taken when choosing its substitute.
Generally, before the research on baby formulas having nanoparticles was done, modern formulas’ proximity to the actual breast milk was quite high. However, when three of the six formulas studied were found to contain hydroxyapatite nanoparticles, all hell broke loose. Now, on top of choosing the formula whose ration and patterning of ingredients resembles that of the breast milk, you still have to think of the presence of these needle-like nanoparticles.
Broadly, there are Cow’s milk formulas, Soy formulas and “Hypoallergenic” formulas. Cow’s milk formulas are based on the cows’ milk while Soy formulas are based on Soybeans. Cow milk is nearly the same with human milk, as far as iron content is concerned. However, extra iron should be added to the Cow’s milk formulas to enhance absorbability.
The addition of DHA and ARA is the latest improvement in the manufacture of baby formulas, and Earth’s Best organic baby formula is proud to be consistent with these improvements. They are crucial in the general growth and development of the infant, especially with regards to sight and IQ. This gives you more reason to prefer Earth’s Best organic baby formulas to others.
Baby formulas can also be in powdered form, ready-to-feed liquid form or concentrated liquid. There are unique formulas for infants with special needs. It is worth noting that doctors do not recommend frequent changing of baby formulas. You are supposed to select the best formula for your kid and stick to it. If it is to be mixed with water, be careful with the quality of water you use at all times.
The demand for Organic baby formulas has recently hit the ground running as parents seem to have realized the unique advantages of these formulas. Though more expensive than their non-organic ones, organic formulas are quite advantageous to kids than the other types of formulas. In this line of thought, Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula and Similac can be considered to be on the same line, the difference being the presence of nanoparticles and their perceived side effects.
As a general guideline, you should not buy baby formulas before giving birth. This is just like counting your chicks before they hatch, which is never recommended. You may never know which formula will be good for your baby, so it is better to wait until the baby is born. It is also advisable to shop for baby formulas at mass merchandisers to take advantage of promotions and discounts. If you are concerned about your budget, you can purchase milk-based formulas because they are cheaper than soy based formulas. You will also find powder baby formulas better than those in liquid or semi-liquid forms. Don’t forget to stick to your brand.
In all these guidelines, you will find that Earth’s Best organic baby formula beats others in the market. Perhaps that is why the parents who have used this formula have given it a five-star rating. Many mothers and caregivers use it in several parts of the world, and it is clearly the customer’s choice. As a mother of a 10-month-old, it became my choice.