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PEHSU Factsheet: Heavy Metals in Baby Foods and Fruit Juices > What are simple steps to reduce a child’s exposure to heavy metals?

What are simple steps to reduce a child’s exposure to heavy metals?

posted on Mar 21, 2022
  • Mercury: The most common source of mercury exposure is eating large predator fish (like shark or swordfish).1 Since fish are an important part of a healthy diet, eat fish but choose wisely to limit mercury.2
  • Arsenic: To reduce arsenic in your child’s diet, limit consumption of rice-based foods. If you have well water, ask your local health department if arsenic testing is needed (arsenic can be present in the soil in some areas and can get into well water).3,4

Simple Steps to Reduce Heavy Metals in Your Child’s Diet

Instead of: Try these instead:
Rice snacks and puffs Whole or pureed fresh fruits, vegetables, or rice-free snacks
Rice cereal A variety of grains and cereals, such as whole grain, oats, multi-grain, and barley
Rice-based teething biscuits or rusks A damp washcloth that has been twisted and frozen (tie one end in a knot). Massage sore areas with your clean finger. Explore more ideas from the American Academy of Pediatrics.5
Fruit juice Children under 6 months: breastmilk or formula only.
Children 6 to 12 months: breastmilk or formula, small amounts of tap water may be given as they learn to use a cup.
Children 12 months and older: small amount tap water & milk.

Cooking rice? Brown rice has higher levels of arsenic compared to white rice. White basmati
or sushi rice tends to have the lowest levels of arsenic. Learn more about selecting rice from
Consumer Reports.6 Rinse rice before cooking and cook in extra water (i.e., 1 cup of rice to 6
cups of water); drain extra water after cooking. Consider alternating rice with other grains that
are lower in arsenic like grits, barley, farro, and bulgur.

Children with special feeding or dietary needs: If your child is being prescribed rice cereal products for medical reasons (e.g., aspiration risk or reflux) please discuss with your doctor for other options if available.

Overall, provide a diet rich in a variety of whole or pureed fruits and vegetables (wash thoroughly with cold water first), lean proteins, and a variety of grains.