June 15, 2017 -- Some baby food sold in the United States contains lead, an environmental group warns.
"Lead was detected in 20 percent of baby food samples compared to 14 percent for other food," according to the Environmental Defense Fund study, NBC News reported.
"Eight types of baby foods had detectable lead in more than 40 percent of samples. Baby food versions of apple and grape juices and carrots had more samples with detectable lead than the regular versions," the group said.
Lead is highly toxic and there is no known safe level of it for anyone to eat, drink or breathe in, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
In babies, lead can kill developing brain cells and there is no way to reverse that damage, NBC News reported.
The EDF's findings are from an analysis of 11 years of data on what the Food and Drug Administration has detected in baby food.
"Overall, 20 percent of the 2,164 baby food composite samples and 14 percent of the other 10,064 food composite samples had detectable levels of lead," the EDF said, NBC News reported.
"The root vegetables category had the highest rate of lead detection, with lead found in 65 percent of the composite samples. The crackers and cookies category was next with 47 percent followed by fruits, including juices, with 29 percent," according to the EDF.
Lead was found in just 4 percent of cereals.
"What we did in this analysis was to say was lead present or not -- not how much was there," Sarah Vogel, vice president of EDF's health program, told NBC News. The FDA data also lacked brand information.
"The only thing parents can do right now is to reach out to their favorite brands and ask them what they are doing (to ensure products are lead-free)," Vogel said.
Pediatricians who weren't involved in the study noted that lead-based paint and lead-contaminated water are by far the main sources of lead affecting U.S. children.
"We don't really consider foodstuff as a significant source of lead," Dr. Karen Fratantoni, a pediatrician at Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C., told NBC News.
While Gerber Products Company said its baby foods are safe, it did not say they are lead-free, NBC News reported.