A study led by a British team at Keele University, published in BMC Pediatrics Journal, emphasizes the vulnerability of infants to early exposure to aluminum and highlights the need to reduce levels of aluminum in infant formulas.

The researchers, led by Dr. Chris Exley with Shelle-Ann M Burrell, found aluminum content to be very high in some of the UK’s most popular infant formulas, including a product designed for preterm infants and a soy-based product for infants with an intolerance to cow’s milk.

infant-formula-featured.jpgThe researchers selected 15 different brands of infant formula for testing, including powdered and ready-made liquid formulas based on cow’s milk and the soy-based variety.  All products were stored according to packaging instructions and the samples were taken directly from their packaging prior to testing.

The effects of aluminum in infant formula–which include possible reduced skeletal mineralization in preterm infants, and growth retardation–have been well-publicized and manufacturers should be well aware of the potential consequences, the researchers noted.  Risks associated with infant formula include both the issue of the contamination by the aluminum and the heightened vulnerability of newborn and preterm babies.

Because consumers have been warned for decades about the potential for aluminum toxicity, the researchers said parents likely might expect that aluminum levels in infant formula have been reduced.  On the contrary, they concluded, the aluminum content in infant formulas remains too high.

According to the researchers, formulas prepared from powdered milk generally had a much higher aluminum content than ready-made milks.

According to Keele University’s Press Release, “The concentrations of aluminium in infant formulas are up to 40 times higher than are present in breast milk. These concentrations are all several times higher than are allowed in drinking water. They are clearly too high for human consumption and certainly too high for consumption by such a vulnerable group as pre-term and term infants.”

Many of the formulas were packaged using aluminum-based materials. As for the soy-based product, researchers believe the levels of aluminum in the soy-based product could be the result of prior aluminum accumulation in the soybean plant.