FOX23 Investigates: Lead found in juices, pediatricians warn of developmental delays

·2 min read

Juice is a staple for many children. Parents often think that it is a healthier alternative to sodas or other sugary drinks.

But scientists say that over time, small amounts of lead found in juice can lead to significant developmental issues.

Kendra Moore has two sons, a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old. She would give them orange juice in the morning before dropping them off at school.

“I thought orange juice was healthy, with it being Vitamin D and stuff in it. So, it was easy for me to give it to them, and they love it,” said Moore.

But along with the vitamins, the Food and Drug Administration found possible lead in all juices, including apple and grape. That’s concerning for pediatricians like Dr. Samira Brown.

“The thing is, once the lead is absorbed, it has a half-life of 25 years, and it stores in the blood bone,” said Dr. Brown. “Even chronic low exposures can be very impactful, specifically to their IQ.”

Daycare owner Sharon Foster knows the dangers of lead exposure to young, developing minds. She had her daycare and two others tested for lead, but it never dawned on her to check the juice.

“I had no idea, I’m embarrassed to say because it is my job to keep children safe. And so I’m glad I know now.”

The FDA is now taking action by issuing recommending lead limits. Of 10 parts per billion in apple juice and 20 parts per billion in other juices. Right now, the maximum limit is 50 parts per billion.

The new limits would lower lead exposure from apple juice by 46 percent, and 19 percent from other juices. Scientists believe most of the lead is getting into the juice through processing, possibly because of the machines used.

FOX23 spoke with one mother who already pulled juice from the menu.

“It’s not something I want to see in my kids’ drinks or food,” said Lindsay Stippich. “Especially seeing that there are so many kids that have developmental delays or different things like that going on. You do wonder, is it because of stuff that they’re putting in our drinks or food?”

The Juice Products Association sent FOX23 a statement, saying in part, “anyone drinking 100% juice, including parents and children can rest assured that they are getting the best and safest product possible.”

Doctors say lead exposure symptoms may not show up right away, but when they do, they can vary from stomach pains and headaches to hair loss and seizures.

However, doctors say the real damage happens to the brain over time with developmental issues.

The CDC says that kids under 12 months should not be given juice. Those over 12 months can get four ounces a day. The FDA is taking comments and suggestions on these new guidelines. You can submit them here.