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AAP Welcomes FDA Announcement on Limiting Arsenic in Infant Rice Cereal

4/1/2016

Chicago - Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a new limit, or action level, for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereals of 100 parts per billion, which is consistent with levels recently set by the European Commission. The FDA’s announcement is based on its assessment of a large body of scientific information, and seeks to reduce infant exposure to inorganic arsenic. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports the proposed new action level and offers resources for both parents and pediatricians on the issue, and will be commenting in more detail on the draft guidance from FDA. While this guidance is still in draft phase, AAP encourages manufacturers to act without delay to meet the new action level.  

 “The AAP welcomes the steps FDA took today to limit the amount of inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal, which is commonly used by parents to feed young infants,” said AAP president Benard P. Dreyer, MD, FAAP. “To reduce the amount of arsenic exposure, it is important all children eat a varied diet, including a variety of infant cereals. The AAP encourages parents to speak with their pediatrician about their children’s nutrition. Pediatricians can work with parents to ensure they make good choices and informed decisions about their child’s diet.”

Arsenic is present in two forms: organic and inorganic. Inorganic is considered to be more toxic than organic arsenic and is a known carcinogen. Rice has higher levels of inorganic arsenic than other foods. As rice plants grow, they tend to absorb arsenic more readily than other food crops. FDA’s analysis found that pregnancy, infancy and early childhood are periods of greater susceptibility to adverse health and developmental effects from exposure to inorganic arsenic.

Other options for parents to introduce as first foods besides rice cereal include oat, barley and multigrain cereals, all of which have lower arsenic levels than rice cereal. The AAP continues to recommend that parents and caregivers feed babies iron-fortified cereals to be sure she or he receives enough of this important nutrient.

“The AAP recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about six months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced. At around six months, infant cereals can be gradually introduced. Rice cereal fortified with iron is a good source of nutrients, but it shouldn’t be the only source, and does not need to be the first source,” said Dr. Dreyer.

 
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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.

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