Public Health and Paediatric Risk Assessment of Aluminium, Arsenic and Mercury in Infant Formulas Marketed in Nigeria

Zelinjo N. Igweze, Osazuwa C. Ekhator, Ify Nwaogazie, Orish E. Orisakwe


Objectives: Infant formulas are useful alternatives to breast milk in many circumstances but may pose health risks to infants and children due to contamination by potentially toxic metals. This study aimed to determine the aluminium, arsenic and mercury concentrations and carry out an exposure health risk assessment in commonly consumed infant formulas in Nigeria. Methods: Different brands of both locally manufactured and imported infant formulas were purchased in March 2017 from stores in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Analysis of metals in the samples was performed by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The health risk was assessed by comparing estimated daily intake of aluminium, arsenic and mercury with the provisional tolerable daily intake acceptable by the Joint Food and Agricultural Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Results: A total of 26 infant formulas were analysed. The levels of arsenic were higher in cereal-based formulas compared to milkbased formulas, but the difference was not significant (P >0.05). The intake levels of aluminium, arsenic and mercury in infant formulas were found to be 8.02–14.2%, 437.1–771% and 23.7–41.8% of the provisional tolerable daily intake JECFA threshold values, respectively. Conclusion: Commonly consumed infant formulas in Nigeria may add to the body burden of arsenic in children.

Keyword: Infant Formulas; Toxicity Test; Aluminum; Arsenic; Mercury; Health Risk Appraisal; Child Health; Nigeria.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

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