HiPP Formula Aluminum

HiPP Formula and High Aluminum Levels in Infant Milk

There has been some recent concern regarding a study published in 2013, measuring the amounts of aluminum found in infant formulas in the UK.   The British journal BMC Pediatrics published an article by Chuhu et al. on excess levels of aluminium in infant milk formulas (download the full PDF).  This study only reviewed a selection of British milks; it did not take into account any US brands like Enfamil, Similac, Baby’s Only, Earth’s Best and did not cover the Holle demeter formula from Germany.

HiPP has issued a statement regarding this study and the aluminum in HiPP formula (download their PDF Statement) that does NOT confirm the same levels of aluminum as the study.  HiPP’s own laboratory testing has not found that the HiPP formula contains these high levels of aluminum.  As HiPP notes in the statement, minimal amounts of aluminum are naturally contained in the raw dairy products which are used to make all infant formulas (ingestion from the soil by cows). But the level of aluminium contained in raw materials fluctuates widely, which means that the data mentioned in the study are a mere “snap-shot” of the actual situation.  HiPP formula aluminum levels are within the regulated standards.

Although the independent study was empirical in nature of its measurements, one very important thing to note about this research is that methodologically, the study could be flawed.  The method by which the researchers evenly distributed the formula was to simply “shake” the cartons.  The method by which they obtained the formula was equally rudimentary; they went to the grocery store and pulled products off the shelves, not notating batch numbers and thus making it impossible for any of the formula producers or any of the government agencies to confirm their findings.  There is simply no way to know whether or not this study validly measured the amount of aluminum in the milks because of several methodological errors.  This kind of study, in fact, would never have been accepted into one of the larger journals due to these methodologies.

There are two presumptive errors as well in the study.  First,the authors state that the levels of aluminum are “too high” based on what the US EPA considers as high aluminum levels.  But the EPA very clearly states on their website that their standard only concerns the taste and color of water.  They make it clear their assumption is not related to any health risk.  While the study authors may feel different (and if they do, they need to add this data to the study), this is consistent with both the US Food & Drug and the UK Food Standards conclusion that the aluminum level within these 30 infant milk products studied is not only safe but within the standards they judge as acceptable for all foods.  In fact, these milks are not considered to be any more of a health risk than several foods on the shelf for children like breakfast cereals and crackers–which also have larger amounts of aluminum.  Indeed, aluminum is a human toxin, but understand that that aluminum is everywhere.  There is aluminum in breastmilk simply because it is so abundantly ingested.  Aluminum is so widely abundant that we breathe it (more in larger cities) in the air.  We cannot get away from the metal on planet earth; and so, aluminum is found in almost all of our processed foods.  You can read about the aluminum content in foodstuffs in a recent published paper (download as PDF).

The second presumptive error the study makes is the conclusion that the aluminum levels are “too high” without studying the actual compound of aluminum found.  This is relatively large hole in the research.  The World Health Organization specifies that the health risk associated with aluminum is based on the type of aluminum compound–and the risk varies widely depending on the compound of aluminum.

We actually contacted directly the senior author on the study to specifically ask which compounds of aluminum were measured, and this was the response:

Thank you for your interest in our research. In these studies on the aluminium content of infant formula we are measuring total aluminium content. It is actually as yet unknown as to the form or more likely forms of aluminium which are present in these products. In a future study we will investigate this in more detail including a clinical trial looking at the absorption of aluminium from formula milks into the infant.   [Dr. Christopher Exley]

It is very important to study both the aluminum compound and the absorption of the aluminum  because we know that ingesting aluminum is very different than taking in aluminum in other ways (such as with vaccines, directly into the body as carried to the bloodstream).  In fact, from what we know today, very little aluminum is absorbed from the digestive tract.  The FDA has confirmed this time and time again. Parents have been put on high alert regarding aluminum because of the exposure due to vaccination, where in small traces aluminum reacts through the blood stream with the brain to “deliver” the virus to the body and stimulate an inflammatory response by immune system. Injecting aluminum into the body, whereby antigens and other components are taken into the bloodstream via the lymphatic system causes an entirely separate reaction than consuming aluminum.  Many healthcare proponents of vaccination will make the correlation between aluminum ingestion and aluminum injection–which is entirely false.

Regrettably the media took this one study and has used it to make parents who know little about bench science research afraid of using formula.  As parents, we’re not exactly experts at reading studies, so it’s easy to take a study like this (from a small journal that has a very low Impact Factor of 1.92–read about what this is in Wikipedia) and not know how to read it for errors or validity.

While the authors of this study may believe that the assumptions used by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) may not be accurate, they have to prove that. The bottom line is that the study does not provide any evidence that the current regulations are wrong, or that current levels of aluminum in infant foods are in any way harmful to health.  Thus, there is little evidence that HiPP formula aluminum levels are in any way harmful or unusual.  Another study following these same methods could easily show another brand higher in aluminum than another, because simply, the methodology of the study is severely flawed.

*Disclaimer: None of the claims herein other than the downloadable HiPP statement represent the opinions of the HiPP manufacturing company.


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