By Jenny Hope
Health fear over metal in formula milk as researchers discover up to 40 times more aluminium than breast milk
Formula baby milk can contain 40 times more aluminium than breast milk, potentially causing health problems in later life, claim researchers.
Traces of the metal in milk from some of the UK’s leading products were found to be much higher than is legally allowed in water, according to scientists.
One formula made by Cow & Gate – specifically marketed for premature babies – had the highest level of all, with more than 800 micrograms per litre.
European law states water can contain no more than 200 micrograms of aluminium per litre. Chemist Dr Chris Exley, who led the study at Keele University, Staffordshire, said: ‘We’ve known about the high aluminium content in infant formula for many years and there is evidence to show it is potentially quite dangerous.
‘It has been linked to neurological diseases and bone defects in later life and there are even links with dementia.
‘Everyone has aluminium in their bodies but infants are especially prone to absorbing it and are not so good at getting rid of it.’
But he stressed: ‘It is not the case that a child is not going to drop down dead if they drink it.’ Manufacturers say they do not add aluminium to their products, but many formulas are often packaged in aluminium foil.
The Food Standards Agency does not provide a ‘safe’ limit for aluminium in formula milk, but Dr Exley wants manufacturers to lower the level dramatically or print it on the label so parents have an informed choice.
Dr Exley, whose team tested 16 of the UK’s leading formula milk brands for children up to the age of one, said: ‘It is concerning, especially when the product with the highest level of aluminium we found was aimed at premature babies, who are likely to be the most vulnerable of all. It is really shocking.