An alarming report was released this week by a study done at Dartmouth College finding high levels of arsenic, a potentially dangerous poison, in organic brown-rice syrup. To further scare people the report stated that this poison could be found in infant formulas and that the exposure to arsenic by infants and young children could cause “lower IQ scores and poor intellectual function.”

“I reviewed the article that was released and then did my own investigation and found that only two infant formulas on the market contain brown rice syrup,” Dr. Bohn said. “The majority of formulas on the market do not contain this ingredient so infant formula is safe.”

The study states that the levels in the formula containing the brown rice syrup had 6 times the levels considered safe in drinking water. However, the article did not state what level of arsenic in food was considered toxic.  The article also stated that most of the arsenic from the brown rice was organic arsenic which was not thought to be toxic like inorganic arsenic.

“It bothers me that the media releases this report in an attempt to scare mothers,” Dr. Bohn continued. “As stated most formulas are safe and even in the two with the organic brown rice it is not known if this level is really toxic to infants.”

In general as Obstetricians we prefer that babies get only breast milk for at least the first six months of their life.  However, not all women are able to breast feed exclusively either because of work demands, inability to produce adequate amounts of breast milk, or taking medications that are not compatible with breast feeding. For these situations infant formulas have been produced to feed babies.

“I agree with the article that studies need to be done to see what the levels of arsenic are in the food and water we drink but also to know what level is dangerous because arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in soil and water,” Dr. Bohn said.

If you have concerns, as always, we recommend you discuss them with your doctor.