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Colorado’s Attorney General Warns of the Dangers of Heavy Metals in Baby Food

In the winter of 2021, a congressional report exposing four major baby food manufacturers for allowing unsettling concentrations of heavy metals in their products was made public. The Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy found these companies’ infant and toddler food to contain 91 times the maximum arsenic concentration, 69 times the safe cadmium limit, 177 times the maximum lead concentration, and 5 times the safe mercury limit. To comprehend the severity of the problem, it is important to note that the maximum allowable level for arsenic is 10 ppb, for cadmium and lead, 5 ppb, and for mercury, 2 ppb. 

Shortly after the investigation results became available, the Food and Drug Administration devised a strategy meant to minimize the content of toxic metals in baby food, known as the Closer to Zero plan. However, it is unnecessarily slow and lengthy and has numerous shortcomings, which prompted Colorado’s Attorney General, Phil Weiser, to join a coalition of 23 other attorney generals. They petitioned the FDA and urged the agency to take more aggressive measures regarding the dangerous level of heavy metals in most baby food on the market. 

“The FDA can and should act quickly to stop manufacturers that have allowed toxic heavy metals into the food we give our children when they are at their most vulnerable,” Weiser said. 

The agency has indeed failed to properly regulate toxic contaminants in baby food. It has set a maximum allowable limit only for arsenic in one type of product – infant rice cereal. Even so, the limit, which is 100 ppb, is considered too high for infants and toddlers by medical specialists and health organizations. Perhaps the most alarming concerning the FDA’s Closer to Zero plan is that it would be completed in 2024, which is unacceptable in the context where children need clean and safe food immediately. “They found evidence that we have arsenic, lead, and other dangerous metals in baby food. The FDA has the authority to oversee baby food and make sure it’s safe. We need them to use that authority,” said Weiser. 

Infants and toddlers are significantly more vulnerable to the health impact of toxic exposure, as ingesting food with heavy metals during their first years of life can greatly increase their risk of autism spectrum disorder. Children who have been fed tainted baby food are also more likely to struggle with other neurodevelopmental disorders and problems, including a lower IQ, behavioral abnormalities, cognitive damage, ADHD, learning disabilities, and speech impairment. Today, 1 in 44 children develop autism in the United States. Moreover, the incidence of the disorder has increased to 2% from 2007 to 2012.  

Baby Formula Manufacturers Facing a Lawsuit Following the Death of a Colorado Infant 

In February 2022, the Abbott facility in Illinois, which manufactured the popular baby formula Similac, was closed due to the presence of bacteria. This sparked a thorough investigation by the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, soon after the plant was shut down, a nationwide shortage of baby formula occurred, causing over 40% of the baby formula supplies nationwide to be out of stock. Still, by June 28, approximately 378 million bottles were secured. While the situation has improved considerably, parents continue to struggle, as the amount of baby formula in stock dropped below 60% in July. 

Around the same time, Octavia Patton-Ashley, whose infant son died in Colorado, filed a lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson, which manufactures another well-known baby formula — Enfamil. She alleges that her baby’s necrotizing enterocolitis, a highly fatal condition in which part of the intestine dies, resulted from the medical staff feeding him Similac and Enfamil formula. The lawsuit argues that baby formula is inherently dangerous for premature babies and should come with clear warnings, which the manufacturers failed to provide. Born in early February 2021 at Children’s Hospital Colorado at 34 weeks, the infant passed away roughly four months later. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.  

The plaintiff also claims that baby formula manufacturers withheld information about the risks from doctors, preventing them from making good recommendations on how it should be used. There are multiple studies that support the connection between necrotizing enterocolitis and baby formula, such as one from the  Journal of Pediatrics. It found that while only 3% of the children in the human milk group developed the condition, a whopping 21% in the baby formula group came to struggle with it. The issue of heavy metals in baby food, as well as in baby formula, is acute and ongoing. Minimizing the content of toxic contaminants in these products should be the FDA’s main priority at the moment. 


Jonathan PicJonathan Sharp is Chief Financial Officer at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. The law firm, which specializes in toxic exposure, is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. Some of the responsibilities of Jonathan Sharp are financial analysis and case evaluation. By virtue of his vast experience in assessing and reviewing toxic exposure cases, he has acquired valuable knowledge about the impact of heavy metals on children’s health and is always up to date with the latest news on this subject. 



Men’s Health Month: A Time to Take Action

June is Men’s Health Month — a perfect reminder for men to make wellness a priority. Many men take care of their health, but additional work is needed to keep more men healthy.

Some of the statistics on men’s health are alarming. For example, life expectancy from birth for men in the U.S. is 76.2 years; for women, it’s 81.2 years. In addition, more than 40 percent of men aged 20 and over are obese and 12 percent of men aged 18 or over are in fair or poor health. Men are less likely to seek help for mental health difficulties, with women seeking mental health support 1.6 times more compared to men in a 12-month period across the United States. Men are also 1.8 times more likely to take their own lives compared to women.

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to some unfortunate statistics, including a decline in U.S. adults seeking health care and generally higher levels of stress. These statistics are especially concerning for men who have been shown to seek health care, and specifically mental health care services, less frequently than women.

These statistics may be worrisome for men and their loved ones, but many of the health risks men face can help be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and getting recommended and timely preventive health screenings.

These statistics may be worrisome for men and their loved ones, but many of the health risks men face can help be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and getting recommended and timely preventive health screenings.

Men’s Health Month is a reminder for men to take charge of their health. I know first-hand what it takes to help men of all ages get and stay healthy. It’s what I do every day in my practice as a urologist specializing in urology for Optum in Colorado Springs.

Regardless of gender, the following general health advice is important. Regular physical activity can help control weight, reduce risks of developing heart disease and some cancers, and can improve overall mental health and mood. Another important priority is nutrition. It’s important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, and limit foods and drinks high in sugar, salt, saturated fat and alcohol.

There are other important reminders for men.  Manage any chronic health conditions and follow treatment plans. In addition, work with a doctor to get a full understanding of the purpose and side effects of the prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements that you may take.

Don’t overlook the importance of using sunscreen. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States.

It’s also important for men and those close to them to be aware of the warning signs of any mental health difficulties. If you have mild symptoms that have lasted for less than two weeks such as, trouble sleeping or feeling down engaging in self-care activities can be a good start. If symptoms are severe, persistent or are worsening, talk to your health care provider. Symptoms may include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor appetite changes that may result in unwarranted weight changes
  • Loss of interest in things that you usually find enjoyable
  • Inability to perform normal responsibilities and daily functions or struggling to get out of bed in the morning due to mood.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of death, suicide, or self-harm, seek help right away. To talk with a trained counselor, you may call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline any time at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 — or go to the closest emergency room. 

Men’s National Health Month is a reminder for men to take a proactive approach to their health. If you or the men in your life are not making positive health choices, now is the perfect time to take charge of your health.


Dr. Todd Wisser is an internal medicine physician with New West Physicians, part of Optum, who shares advice on what it takes to help men of all ages get and stay healthy.

5 Healthy Lifestyle Habits to Shape Your Heart Health

February is recognized as American Heart Month, a health observance that encourages Americans to understand the importance of heart health and adopt healthier behaviors that can decrease the risk of serious health outcomes, such as a heart attack or stroke. Unfortunately, heart disease and other conditions that can affect the heart, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, are far too common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

Shutterstock 1888178554By adopting healthier lifestyle habits, individuals can learn to incorporate small, but powerful changes into their day-to-day routines that can help decrease their risk of heart disease, improve overall health, and increase longevity. The CDC states that living a healthier lifestyle can help you lower your blood pressure and cholesterol level and ultimately help lower your risk for heart disease.

Living a longer, healthier life starts with taking care of your heart. Here are five lifestyle habits that can be implemented today that can improve not only heart, but whole-body health:

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

By taking a few minutes out of each day to acknowledge what or who you are grateful for, you can tap into positive emotions which are linked to greater wellbeing. Try writing the things you are grateful for in a journal or even expressing them out loud to a friend or family member.

2. Find Support for Smoking Cessation

Some old habits are especially hard to break; especially smoking, which is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke. According to the CDC, one in every four deaths from cardiovascular diseases is caused by smoking.

If you are ready to quit, asking a friend or a family member for support may help. The person supporting you can help you stay positive, celebrate your successes, and aid in changing your daily routine, such as going on an evening walk instead of an after-work cigarette.

3. Initiate Movement

Any physical activity is better than none, so it can be helpful to choose an activity that you enjoy, such as biking, yoga, walking, swimming, or tennis. Even small changes to your routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away from the door when you visit the grocery store can make a difference. 

Stay motivated to be active by doing the activity with a friend or your pet. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), regular-moderate to vigorous-physical activity reduces heart disease by 30 to 40 percent and stroke by 25 percent.

4. Spice it Up

Sodium is a mineral that we all need, but too much sodium intake from the foods we eat has been associated with increased blood pressure — and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dietary guidelines recommend limiting sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams per day (about 1 teaspoon), and the AHA recommends moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.

You can substitute salt with flavorful spices and herbs that liven up your food (and are nutritionally beneficial), such as basil, rosemary, mint, ginger, cayenne, cilantro and dill.

5. Floss Daily

Practicing good dental hygiene, especially flossing your teeth daily, can contribute to your overall health and heart health specifically, according to the AHA. Many studies have shown that bacteria in the mouth involved in the development of gum disease can move into the blood stream and cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. This elevation may increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. So, brush and floss daily, not only for fresh breath, but for your heart health too.

It’s true that some habits are hard to break but remember that small steps can lead to big victories. Take one habit at a time and with a series of small changes you are on your way to a healthier lifestyle and healthier heart.


Optum Disclaimer: Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level. Ask about the amounts and types of activities that may be best for you.

JonathanzoncaDr. Jonathan Zonca, MD, FAAFP of New West Physicians, part of Optum