U.S. health officials are warning doctors to be on the lookout for possible cases of lead poisoning in children after at least 22 young children in 14 states fell ill from lead linked to to tainted pouches of cinnamon apple puree and applesauce.
Children ages 1 to 3 were affected, and at least one child showed a blood lead level eight times higher than the level of concern, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
There is no safe level of lead exposure, but the CDC uses a marker of 3.5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children with higher levels than most. The blood lead levels of the affected children ranged from 4 to 29 micrograms per deciliter.
Reported symptoms included headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in activity level, and anemia.
The illnesses are part of an outbreak linked to recalled pouches of fruit puree marketed to children under the brands WanaBana, Cinnamon Applesauce, and pouches of Schnucks and Weis Cinnamon Applesauce. The products were sold in stores and online.
Parents and caregivers should not buy or serve the products, and children who may have eaten them should be tested for lead levels. Affected children may not show symptoms, experts said.
Lead exposure can cause serious learning and behavioral problems. Heavy metals like lead can get into food products through soil, air, water or industrial processes, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The CDC said there were cases in the following states as of Nov. 7: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.