Well Water a Danger to Infants

Formula can be tainted with nitrates, linked to blood illness, experts say

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TUESDAY, Sept. 6, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Formula and food prepared with well water can cause nitrate poisoning in infants, leading the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to issue a warning for families using wells for their drinking water.

These families should have their water tested regularly, and breastfeed their infants if possible, the AAP said in a report in the September issue of Pediatrics.

The report also recommends that pediatricians ask new parents about well water use during prenatal and check-up visits.

Nitrates are a natural component of plants and some fertilizers, and they often seep into well water. Adults naturally pass nitrates through urine, but they can cause a dangerous blood condition in children that limits oxygen in the circulation.

An estimated 15 million families drink water from private, unregulated wells, and 2 million families drink from wells that fail to meet federal drinking-water standards for nitrate, according to the AAP.

Academy experts added that because vegetables can have nitrate levels as high or higher than well water, infants should not eat those foods until after three months of age.

More information

The Illinois Department of Public Health has more about infants and nitrate poisoning.

SOURCES: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, Sept. 6, 2005

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