Historical and recent data demonstrate that off-the-shelf infant formulas are heavily contaminated with aluminium. The origin of this contamination remains to be elucidated though may be imported via ingredients, packaging and processing. Specialised infant formulas exist to address health issues, such as low birth weight, allergy or intolerance and medical conditions, such as renal insufficiency. The aluminium content of these prescription infant formulas is measured here for the first time. We obtained 24 prescription infant formulas through a paediatric clinic and measured their total aluminium content by transversely heated graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry following microwave assisted acid/peroxide digestion. The aluminium content of ready-to-drink formulas ranged from 49.9 (33.7) to 1956.3 (111.0) μg/L. The most heavily contaminated products were those designed as nutritional supplements for infants struggling to gain weight. The aluminium content of powdered formulas ranged from 0.27 (0.04) to 3.27 (0.19) μg/g. The most heavily contaminated products tended to be those addressing allergies and intolerance. Prescription infant formulas are contaminated with aluminium. Ready-made formulas available as nutritional supplements to aid infant growth contained some of the highest concentrations of aluminium in infant formulas measured in our laboratory. However, a number of prescription infant formulas contained the lowest concentrations of aluminium yet measured in our laboratory. These higher cost specialist preparations demonstrate that the contamination of infant formulas by aluminium is not inevitable. They represent what is achievable should manufacturers wish to address the threat posed to health through infant exposure to aluminium.
Keywords: aluminium contamination; aluminium toxicity; human exposure to aluminium; infant formulas; infant nutirion.