The Journal of Pediatrics just published a study conducted by the Environmental Health Center at Children’s Hospital in Boston which links lead poisoning in four children to Indian spices and ceremonial powders.
Lead is a dangerous toxin that acts on nerve cells. In children, neurotoxins such as lead, can cause blood and brain disorders. It can accumulate in bone and soft tissues over time. In children, symptoms of lead poisoning can include loss of appetite, weight loss, anemia, learning disabilities, abdominal pain, kidney failure and behavior problems. With more prolonged exposure, it can cause delayed growth, hearing loss and delay the acquisition of abilities, like speech and affect the nervous system.
The Boston study found that approximately 25% of Indian spices and other foodstuffs contained detectable traces of lead. Infants do not necessarily have to consume the spices but they can be exposed topically through the hands and skin of their parents, in utero, through breastfeeding and through inhalation.
The Pediatrics article concludes that physicians working with the South Asian community screen new immigrants for lead-exposure and that the FDA should carefully monitor Indian food products and religious products and provide warning labels.
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ABC News/Health Indian Spices, Powders Linked to Lead Poisoning
Written by Susan Donaldson James March 15, 2010