Are There Heavy Metals in Baby Formula?

By: Suzanne Renee' - Updated December 15, 2023 - 8 Minute Read

Are there heavy metals in baby formula | The Milky Box

Families will do all they can to ensure their baby grows happy and healthy. We know every detail is essential, from the care and keeping of newborns to ensure they get the best possible nutrition.

When researching the best options, it can be significantly disconcerting to read a worrisome headline telling you that baby formula may contain some alarming levels of heavy metal. To understand why this issue is urgently essential, we must understand what heavy metals are and why they are harmful.

In this article, we will cover all the critical information about heavy metals in baby formula, the specific findings of metals in baby foods, and what you can do to avoid them.

Are Heavy Metal in Baby Formula Dangerous

Heavy metals are a broad category; however, for our purposes, we will define them as a group of elements that can be toxic to the human body, especially in large, unknown, and unlisted amounts. 

Cognitive Dangers

Toxic metal exposure can be harmful to the developing brain. Research has shown associations between low dose, heavy metal exposure, and problems with neurocognitive development.

Cognitive Dangers | The Milky Box

Physical Dangers

Your little ones’ bodies need essential minerals like iron and zinc to function and grow properly. Heavy metals, however, are VERY different and are never desired in food, formula, or other ways. These include metals like mercury, arsenic, and lead). While overdoses of good minerals like iron, zinc, and others can cause problems, there is an important distinction between these essential nutrients and heavy metals, which are never nutrients you want to avoid as much as possible.

Concerns of Heavy Metals on Child Development 

Effects of Heavy Metals on Infant Development  | The Milky Box

Where Do Heavy Metals in Baby Formulas Come From?

All metals originate in the earth and can be concentrated in the soil via air and water pollution from industries, exhaust, and more. They enter the food chain this way into plants and animals that eat such plants and, from there, can find their way into baby formula.

Heavy metals are found naturally in all soil and the world around. However, these toxins go unchecked in manufacturing and industrial processes without stringent regulations. They can disseminate via the air, soil, and water and contaminate agricultural processes far and wide, potentially wreaking havoc on the environment, animals, and humans.

Heavy Metals in Baby Formula

Families should be aware of four primary toxic heavy metals in US baby formula. Parents should be especially aware of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury because of their availability and potential effects on their baby's health and development.


Lead is one of the first heavy metals identified as neurotoxic; as such, we know that absorption of lead poses severe implications to public health and is especially dangerous when ingested by infants.

Some chronic effects of lead poisoning in babies are colic, constipation, and anemia. Fetal neuro-developmental products and reduced learning capacity in children are among the most severe impacts.

One critical study showed that over 30 percent of infant formulas and baby foods in the U.S. had detectable levels of lead.


When ingested, the risks include lung and bone diseases, and cancer. Even trace amounts regularly given in baby formulas can cause health troubles later in life, including acute kidney failure.


Prolonged exposure to toxic levels of mercury may cause severe nerve damage. Mercury poisoning has been known to slow cognitive development and slow the achievement of developmental milestones in infants and young children.

Mercury poisoning markers include impaired coordination, muscle weakness, degenerative eyesight loss, and hearing issues.


Daily exposure to arsenic batter’s immature immune systems making it extremely hard for little ones to fight illness and disease.

Infants are more at risk of developing cancer and skin lesions and long-term risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Heavy Metal Contamination of Baby Foods

A congressional investigation has found levels of arsenic, lead, and other toxic metals that can harm brain development in many popular US Infant Nutrition, including organic brands. Considering this ongoing research, legislative and regulatory institutions have been incredibly slow to change policies.

In 2021 the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, a subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives, published an investigation into US baby formula and baby food manufacturers. Investigators found that these companies' products were tainted with dangerous metals arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury.

This is unacceptable. We expect those who serve the most vulnerable in our families to do better!

Organic Baby Formulas: Are They Safe in the United States? 

Consumer Reports analyzed fifty nationally distributed infant nutrition checking for cadmium, lead, mercury, and inorganic arsenic, the type most harmful to health.

Unfortunately, the overwhelming results show that there were detectable levels of these heavy metal toxins, and organic foods were just as likely to contain heavy metals as conventional foods.

Organic certification in the US has proven that it does not always ensure safety for infants and toddlers.

How to Avoid Heavy Metal in Baby Formula

Nutrition you can trust is extremely important. As we can see, it is not always easy to find a safe and healthy baby formula that will allow your infant to grow, develop and thrive without toxins

European Baby Formula

Starting from square one when researching the best baby formulas, it is necessary that an infant nutrition company is found that places utmost priority on minimizing the risk of contamination by metals.

European baby formula brands have strict guidelines that place as much importance on the ingredients that make up your baby’s formula as those they leave out.

EU requirements for all stages of the formula are rigorous and require frequent testing and controls at all stages of production.

European Baby Formulas | The Milky Box

Organic Baby Formula: The European Difference

When preparing your infants bottle, organic quality sets European baby formula apart from American baby formula in a big way. European baby formulas have strict regulations and standards set by the European Commission to ensure the use of ingredients that only support digestive health, growth and development and are manufactured and produced in an ecologically responsible manner.

EU guidelines require that all European organic baby formulas are free from pesticide residue, growth hormones, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), synthetic chemicals and preservatives, heavy metals, and potentially toxic ingredients.

Heavy Metal Free Baby Formula

Extreme importance must be placed on choosing a safe and healthy formula that will allow your infant to flourish in their most delicate stage of development.

The Milky Box's top priority is providing pure, clean ingredients and digestive support that mimics mother milk as close as possible and contributes to healthy physical growth and cognitive development without toxic ingredients like heavy metals.

We have breastfeeding alternatives to meet your family’s needs starting from birth.


Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.

Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.

Suzanne Renee' is an accomplished professional with extensive expertise in the area of infant nutrition, dedicated to promoting the health and wellbeing of children. She started this journey as a foster parent. Suzanne has emerged as a strong proponent of the European baby formula and has become a full time writer of the subject. In her free time, she enjoys camping, hiking and going to church.

Leave a Comment:

Comments will be approved before showing up.




Read Next:

Reviewed by Dr. Eric Wood, ND, MA

Dr. Wood is a licensed naturopathic doctor, with a doctorate degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Canada. He received his post-graduation certification in Mind Body Medicine at Harvard University.

With 15 years of experience, Dr. Wood is an Associate Professor of Holistic Nutrition at the American College of Health Sciences in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Wood is an educator, clinician, author, media figure, consultant, and owns his own holistic (naturopathic) medical practice in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Dr. Wood is currently researching and drafting books on cancer and pediatrics.

Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Wood loves singing with the Miami Lyric Opera and is an avid musician in South Florida. He also loves spending time with his wife and kids.