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A chemical used in explosives, fireworks and rocket fuel has been found in powdered baby formula and could exceed the level that's considered safe for adults if mixed with water also contaminated with the powder, the Associated Press reports. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested the infant formula for traces of perchlorate because of concern that the chemical can damage thyroid function, which may interfere with fetal and infant brain development.
The CDC's findings, published last month in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology and re-reported by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, discovered that 15 brands of baby milk contained perchlorate, an oxidizer in solid fuels. Cow's milk formula with lactose had the highest perchlorate levels compared to formulas that were soy-based or lactose-free. The CDC did not name the tested brands.
Perchlorate also has been found in the drinking water of at least 35 states and the District of Columbia.
The CDC noted that the scope of the study was limited: Samples were taken from only one city, which means the results might not apply nationwide. According to the EWG, the CDC researchers found that the two most tainted brands had nearly 90 percent share of the U.S. powdered baby milk market in 2000.
This isn't the first time that U.S. health officials have faced this problem. Crib Notes previously reported on the Food and Drug Administration adjusting the safe level of another chemical allowed in baby formula.