Our law firm is handling baby food autism lawsuits in all 50 states.
Several popular brands of baby foods contain high levels of heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium. These heavy metals are well-known neurotoxins. Consuming these toxic metals in baby foods may have caused thousands of children to develop autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
Many parents are filing a toxic baby food lawsuit to protect their children, alleging claims against the manufacturers of these contaminated baby foods. These baby food autism lawsuits allege the manufacturers knew about heavy metals in their products, and children developed autism from consuming them.
If you have a potential baby food autism case, call us today at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.
Baby Food Autism Lawsuit Updates 2024
Before we dive into the substance of the baby food autism lawsuit, let’s look at where we are in the litigation:
February 16, 2024 – Baby Food Class Action Opposed
A coalition of baby food producers, including Gerber Products Co., The Hain Celestial Group Inc., and Beech-Nut Nutrition Co., oppose the consolidation of lawsuits into an MDL class action. These lawsuits allege that the presence of heavy metals in their products contributes to autism spectrum disorder and other health issues.
The companies assert that the reasons for previously rejecting consolidation still stand, emphasizing that nearly all pre-suit discovery is complete, and mechanisms for evidence sharing are in place, making centralization unnecessary for efficient litigation. They highlight the limited number of federal cases, all filed by a small group of attorneys representing the plaintiffs and a unified defense counsel, arguing that attorney coordination diminishes the need for an MDL.
They also argue against the central causation claim, arguing it lacks a reliable scientific foundation. But this is not the place for that argument… and the idea that heavy metals do not cause brain injuries in children is a hard argument.
Should the JPML decide to consolidate, the manufacturers suggest the Southern District of New York as the most suitable venue due to its proximity to the defendants’ bases and capacity for handling such litigation.
February 10, 2024 – New Momentum for Baby Food Brain Injury Lawsuits
This litigation took a wrong turn when the Cantabrana case in California was dismissed. That case was intended to be the bellwether case to jumpstart this litigation toward an eventual settlement. So people were despondent when that baby food lawsuit never even made it to the courthouse steps.
But the new conventional wisdom, I think, is that Cantabrana was dismissed on facts specific to that case and that expert who was disqualified from testifying.
January 31, 2024 – More on the New Baby Food Class Action Lawsuit
As we discussed in our last update, attorneys have proposed that multiple lawsuits filed against Gerber Products Co., Walmart Inc., and other leading baby food manufacturers should be centralized in one judicial district. This would be a “sort of” baby food class action lawsuit. More specifically, it would be an MDL.
What distinguishes an MDL from a class action lawsuit? While both streamline the legal process for handling multiple claims, an MDL consolidates individual lawsuits that share common issues to one court for pretrial proceedings, keeping each case separate. You still have your own individual case. In contrast, a class action merges all claims into a single lawsuit, representing a group of plaintiffs as one entity.
These baby food lawsuit plaintiffs seek to consolidate claims that heavy metals in the companies’ baby food products have caused significant harm to thousands of children, leading to diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The MDL request asks to combine 10 of the 11 related lawsuits, which involve the same products and toxins (lead, arsenic, mercury), similar injuries (autism spectrum disorder and ADHD), and the same defendants (including Gerber, Nestle, Hain, Beech-Nut, Nurture, Danone, Plum, Campbell, Walmart, and Sprout).
Several potential locations for the combined case are being considered: the District of Nevada (hosting two pending actions), the Northern District of California (with three actions), the Central District of California (two actions), and the Eastern District of Louisiana, where the earliest lawsuit related to this matter, Watkins et al. v. Nurture LLC, was filed.
The motion also suggests that the Watkins case, which is already set for trial on August 12, 2024, should not be included in this consolidated process due to its advanced stage. Plaintiffs are desperate to get one of these cases before a jury. That is what would really kickstart this litigation.
January 23, 2024 – New Toxic Metal Baby Food Lawsuit
A new lawsuit has been filed against several major baby food manufacturers and retailers, alleging they knowingly sold baby foods containing dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals. The complaint, filed in the United States District Court, Central District of California, involves a minor plaintiff represented by his mother and Guardian ad Litem.
The lawsuit emphasizes the severe risks posed to babies and children due to exposure to toxic heavy metals. It points out that scientific research has consistently linked exposure to these substances with brain injuries, including autism and ADHD, in pediatric populations.
The complaint includes various causes of action against the defendants, including:
- Strict product liability for failure to warn
- Strict product liability for design defect
- Strict product liability for manufacturing defect
- Negligence for failure to warn
- Negligence for product design
- Negligence for manufacturing
In addition to seeking compensatory damages, the lawsuit seeks exemplary and punitive damages from the defendants. The defendants are who you would expect: Hain, Beech-Nut, Gerber, Nurture, and Walmart.
January 18, 2024 – Class Action Lawsuit Is Back
Consumers have successfully revived lawsuits against Beech-Nut Nutrition Co. for allegedly failing to disclose the presence of heavy metals in their baby food products. The Second Circuit reversed a previous case dismissal, arguing that waiting for the FDA to take regulatory action would cause unnecessary delays. Parents claim they paid too much for products containing harmful substances like lead and arsenic.
Initially, the district court had dismissed the case based on the FDA’s “Closer to Zero” plan to set limits for toxic metals in baby and young children’s foods. However, the FDA failed to follow its proposed timelines, prompting the appeals court to overturn the dismissal and send the case back for reconsideration.
January 14, 2024 – New Baby Food MDL Sought
Baby food lawyers have filed a motion to transfer and consolidate pretrial proceedings in an MDL – basically a class action lawsuit – for all currently filed personal injury lawsuits related to baby food. The plaintiffs in these cases allege neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), due to exposure to heavy metals in baby food products. Several defendants manufactured and sold these products, including major companies like Gerber, Hain Celestial Group, and Beech-Nut Nutrition Company.
The motion highlights the adverse effects of heavy metals on early childhood brain development and links them to ASD/ADHD. It references a Congressional investigation that we talk about below that found significant levels of heavy metals in various commercial baby food products. The investigation also revealed the defendants’ failure to meet their own internal safety standards and the lack of appropriate regulatory limits for heavy metals in baby foods.
So given the commonalities among the lawsuits, including the same products, toxins, injuries, and defendants, baby food lawyers argue that class action consolidation is warranted. It emphasizes the practical difficulties of managing these cases separately, including the potential for inconsistent rulings and duplicated discovery efforts.
The motion suggests several potential venues for the centralized proceedings, considering factors like the location of the events, the courts’ resources, and the progress of existing cases. These venues include the District of Nevada, Northern District of California, Central District of California, and Eastern District of Louisiana.
January 8, 2024 – New Hope for Toxic Baby Food Lawsuit
As you know, lawsuits have been filed across the country linking baby food to autism, but they have not been successful. As you know from the comments below, plaintiffs are 0-2 in the two baby food autism lawsuits that have been pressed forward.
But there is renewed optimism as we approach 2024. More toxic baby food lawyers are undaunted and pushing forward. Here are our requirements and the type of cases we are looking for:
- The child is six years of age or younger.
- The child was born at or after the 26th week of pregnancy.
- The child has not been diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis.
- The mother was 45 or younger at the time of the child’s birth.
- No parent of the child has been diagnosed with autism.
- The parents have not engaged a lawyer for an autism case related to the acetaminophen product (APAP).
- The child’s birthplace was outside of Michigan.
- Product Use:
- Must have used at least one product from the following companies:
- Beech-Nut Nutrition Company
- Hain Celestial Group, Inc (Earth’s Best Organic)
- Nestle (Gerber)
- Nurture, Inc (Happy Baby, Happy Family Organics)
- Must have used at least one product from the following companies:
- Associated Products:
- May have used products from these manufacturers (not currently defendants):
- Sun-Maid (Plum Organics)
- Walmart (Parent’s Choice)
- Sprouts (Sprouts Organic Foods)
- May have used products from these manufacturers (not currently defendants):
- High Heavy Metal Foods:
- The child consumed foods generally associated with high levels of heavy metals, specifically:
- Infant rice cereal
- Rice puff snacks
- Carrots and sweet potatoes
- Fruit juice (though products listed above are preferred)
- The child consumed foods generally associated with high levels of heavy metals, specifically:
- Product Use:
2023 Baby Food Lawsuit Updates
November 7, 2023
A groundbreaking California law now mandates baby food manufacturers to scrutinize their products for toxic metals, going a step beyond the FDA’s current recommendations. Beginning in January, frequent tests for metals like cadmium and mercury are imperative, with complete transparency on results expected by 2025.
This legislation, fueled by concerns over ubiquitous metal contaminants in baby food, seeks to enhance product safety and consumer trust. Companies must also employ QR codes to share test findings, and non-compliance is penalized. This proactive state stance could catalyze broader federal measures and shift industry norms towards enhanced precautionary measures.
September 14, 2023
California lawmakers passed AB 899, requiring baby food manufacturers to monthly test products for toxic elements like heavy metals. By 2025, these products must have a QR code linking to the test results. The law will ban sales of non-compliant baby foods.
September 5, 2023
Beech-Nut Nutrition is asking a federal appeals court to uphold the dismissal of consumer lawsuits concerning heavy metals in baby foods. The company argues that these matters should be resolved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rather than the courts. Parents allege that Beech-Nut failed to disclose the presence of arsenic and other toxic metals in its food for children. The claim is not for personal injury in these cases but overpayment for the cost of the product.
September 1, 2023
Plaintiffs suffered a hit in this baby food litigation when, after a Sargon hearing, a Los Angeles, California state court judge deemed inadmissible the expert opinion that a child developed autism and attention deficit disorders from consuming baby food allegedly tainted with harmful heavy metals.
A Sargon hearing refers to a specific type of evidentiary hearing in California state courts concerning the admissibility of expert witness testimony. The name derives from the case “Sargon Enterprises, Inc. v. University of Southern California,” which the California Supreme Court decided in 2012. In this case, the court clarified the trial court’s role as a gatekeeper in evaluating the admissibility of expert testimony.
In this Sargon hearing, Superior Court of Los Angeles County Judge Lawrence Riff found that an expert’s testimony at the hearing was not scientifically valid due to flawed methodology behind his conclusions.
It is easy to prove heavy metals cause autism. The challenge for plaintiffs in these cases is proving specific causation because lead is not only in baby food it is everywhere. This is just one judge’s opinion in one case. But is it a tough blow for plaintiffs? Absolutely.
July 14, 2023
A Texas family who believes their son’s brain damage is due to the presence of heavy metals in baby food produced by Hain Celestial Group has urged a federal appeals court to restore their suit against Hain and retailer Whole Foods. After the district court unjustly dismissed Whole Foods from the case and denied its return to Texas state court, the case proceeded against Hain Celestial, resulting in Hain’s victory midtrial due to the plaintiffs’ inability to demonstrate that the heavy metals caused the alleged damage. The family argues that they presented sufficient evidence linking the heavy metals to their son’s ailment, and thus, a jury trial should have been conducted.
June 26, 2023
In a recent investigation by Consumer Reports, it has been found that heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, and lead continue to persist in some baby food brands, a concern first raised five years ago. Notwithstanding the calls for manufacturers to ensure healthier baby foods, major brands such as Earth’s Best Organic, Gerber and Hot Kid still exhibit variable levels of these harmful metals in their products. Such exposure can potentially impair children’s IQ and cause developmental issues. The report underscores the need for the Food and Drug Administration to instigate stricter regulations on permissible levels of toxic metals in baby foods. Foods primarily made from rice, sweet potatoes, and carrots were identified as carrying the highest risk, largely due to the ways they are farmed. Consumer Reports plan future tests for heavy metal contamination in baby foods and related products.
June 1, 2023
The first (real) baby food autism lawsuit will likely go to trial in California in just four months in October 2023. It will be the first real test of what the jury thinks of the science of these lawsuits.
March 23, 2023
The FDA has raised concerns about how serious it is about keeping children safe by quietly removing the deadlines for setting guidelines to reduce toxic metals in baby food from its website. The lack of urgency and explanation for this change is as frustrating as it is unsurprising.
March 15, 2023
Hain Celestial Group Inc. secured a midtrial judgment in a lawsuit filed by a family claiming that heavy metals in its Earth’s Best baby and toddler foods caused their son’s severe autism. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas determined that the family could not demonstrate that lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals could generally cause the alleged harm, which proved fatal to their case.
Is this a blow for plaintiffs in baby food autism lawsuits? Not really. There was no qualified expert who testified in this case that ingestion of heavy metals could cause the range of symptom the child suffers from in this case. There was also no evidence proferred regarding the level of ingestion required to cause those symptoms. The judge, correctly, said that the plaintiffs did not prove their case. Ultimately, you need the right experts in these cases and that is what we are hoping so see in the trial in California set for October.
March 8, 2023
A new autism baby food lawsuit was filed in federal court in Nevada last week with five plaintiffs who allege Beech-Nut Nutrition Company Inc. (“Beech”), Gerber Products Company, Plum PBC (“Plum”), Sprout Foods Inc. (“Sprout”), Walmart Inc. (“Walmart”) caused their autism. The causes of action include strict liability, failure to warn, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, negligence per se, ordinary negligence, gross negligence, and unjust enrichment. The autism suit also brings counts specific to Nevada law for adulterated products and violating the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The lawsuit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.
This lawsuit was not mere notice pleading. The suit walks through not only the House subcommittee report on heavy metals in baby food but also includes the Healthy Babies Bright Futures report, and the medical literature – including faraway studies in South Korea, Egypt, and China – on the risk of toxic metals and the presence of toxic metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic in baby food.
February 3, 2023
A group of two Senators and two Congressmen sent a letter this week to the Commissioner of the FDA. The letter strongly urges the FDA to take prompt action and finalize new regulations regarding the acceptable safe levels of heavy metals in baby food products. For the last two years, the food industry has been waiting for new regulations from the FDA, but very little has been issued.
January 27, 2023
The FDA has finally released its new proposed limits for the maximum safe lead level in baby food products. Under the new regulations, baby foods containing fruits, vegetables, and grain and meat-based mixtures will not be allowed to exceed lead levels of 10 parts per billion. Once these regulations are finalized, the FDA will have the authority to take enforcement action against manufacturers found to be violating this maximum limit.
January 11, 2023
Bloomberg law has a podcast on the problem of toxic metals in baby food and why the FDA has responded slowly to the crisis.
In 2007, the FDA detected toxic heavy metals in 33 of 39 types of baby food tested. But the FDA failed to set enforceable limits or issue guidance on maximum safe amounts.
January 4, 2023
Most baby food lawsuits are filed in state courts that have jurisdiction over one of the defendants. For various reasons, most baby food lawyers believe state courts likely provide a more favorable venue for victims.
The number of toxic baby food lawsuits pending in the federal courts has decreased significantly over the last 16 months. At one point, Hain Celestial had around 25 pending cases against it in federal courts. Now, however, only two of those lawsuits are still pending. The obvious question is why. We think most of these cases were consumer class actions that were voluntarily abandoned following an adverse ruling in New Jersey. Also, new plaintiffs may be electing to bring their case in state court – primarily in California – where there have already been favorable rulings on causation evidence.
2022 Baby Food Lawsuit Updates
December 15, 2022
This article takes offense to lawyers advertising for baby food autism lawsuits because the author believes the studies – actually just one meta-analysis – show correlation and not causation. Let’s accept her premise for a moment. The “correlation” in this one study she cites is undeniably strong.
Does the author then jump to what needs to be done to determine if it is not just correlation but causation? No. She goes back to railing against lawyers and makes the uncited and unsupportable conclusion like “Class action lawsuits are not new in the U.S., but their scientific basis has weakened over the years.”
The irony is rich, right? A completely unfounded conclusion punctuates her lecture about unsubstantiated conclusions. How has the Daubert standard changed over the years, leading to a lower bar in your opinion? Is the study you cited the only study the plaintiffs’ experts rely upon in their conclusions? What does she know that the well-credentialed epidemiologists and medical doctors who have offered opinions in this litigation do not? Does a “non-statistician” – as you concede are – have the bones in this field to be so condescending towards another view?
It is good to remember that when it comes to scientific debates like this one, people smarter and more qualified than you disagree with you regardless of which side you are on in the dispute.
December 3, 2022
Over 100 lawsuits are pending against baby food companies seeking to hold them liable for the high levels of toxic heavy metals in their products.
Beech-Nut and other defendants have recently filed motions to dismiss many of these cases. Based on the legal arguments made in these motions, it is evident what the overall defense strategy will be in these cases.
First and foremost, the defendants will aggressively argue that there is no reliable scientific evidence to show that their baby food products (even with the heavy metals) can cause autism and other conditions.
Second, the defendants will present a federal preemption defense and argue that the tort claims are preempted by the federal authorities’ ability to regulate the presence of heavy metals in baby food products.
November 14, 2022
We get a lot of calls from people who want to bring a baby food ADHD lawsuit.
Has ADHD been linked to toxic metals in baby food? It has. But our firm is not yet taking ADHD baby food lawsuits. We think the science needs to be stronger before taking on ADHD claims.
Here are firms that seem to be taking ADHD baby food cases. They are not linked to our firm in any way:
Miller Injury Firm (really, not us)
But there are lots of others taking ADHD cases, too. (The baby food class action lawsuit in 2024 also lists ADHD as a potential injury.) We just pulled these out for you, pretty much at random.
November 6, 2022
A baby food lawsuit will go to trial on May 2, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. That case still has most of the major defendants:
*Parent’s Choice (Walmart)
August 30, 2022
The earliest baby food autism lawsuits were filed in March 2021 after the release of a Congressional report about the levels of heavy metals in baby foods.
There have been about 60 similar product liability lawsuits have been filed against baby food manufacturers in federal and state courts since then.
Our lawyers went back and looked at the status of many of the earliest cases. The plaintiffs have voluntarily dismissed a large percentage of them.
There is a case in state court heading to trial this summer. It is hard to imagine a scenario where the manufacturers allow that case to go to trial. It is reasonable to expect they will offer a reasonable settlement amount to give them a chance to figure out how they are will approach these autism baby food lawsuits.
Our attorneys have not seen any trial dates scheduled in federal court for those cases still pending. But based on normal time frames for federal court cases that could be happening soon. We could see our first autism baby food case go to trial before the end of 2023.
June 23, 2022
Our lawyers have been closely tracking incoming toxic baby food autism lawsuits as they continue to get filed in the federal court system. Over the last six months, there have been at least 14 new product liability lawsuits alleging that heavy metals in baby foods led to the development of autism or other neurologic disorders.
The most frequently named defendant in these cases has been Nurture, Inc., which makes HappyBaby Organics brand food. Nurture has been named as a defendant in seven of the new toxic baby food cases. Gerber ranks second with 4four cases filed against it, followed by Hain Celestial and Sprout Foods with three lawsuits each.
May 26, 2022
The baby food autism lawsuits are getting new steam.
California Clears Path for Baby Food Autism Trial in August 2022
First, big news, a California court ruled this week that the plaintiffs – a boy and his family – had presented sufficient science in a baby food autism lawsuit to move forward to trial in August.
This is a major development in the baby food toxic metals litigation. California law requires expert witnesses to have a reasonable foundation for their opinions before testifying at trial. In finding for the plaintiffs, the court is finding that the evidence that links autism and baby foods has an adequate foundation to be presented to a jury. What I have been saying all along was getting past this hurdle was the key to plaintiffs winning jury payouts and getting reasonable settlement amounts.
Baby Food Class Action Lawsuit in Federal Court
In another development in baby food claims, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that plaintiffs could proceed with a proposed baby food autism class action lawsuit. This lawsuit in federal court alleges that Walmart knowingly sold its “Parent’s Choice” baby food with toxic metals in it.
Independent laboratory testing confirmed last year that Walmart-branded baby food contained levels of heavy metals that were significantly higher than the maximum safe levels set by the FDA.
May 2, 2022
There have been a number of baby food lawsuits filed by consumers who looking for a refund for the baby food they bought because the food maker did not disclose the risk of toxic metals in their baby food products. Our baby food lawyers are focused on autism diagnosis lawsuits, not consumer cases. But many of them are being pursued. A federal court judge in New Jersey dismissed a baby food class action lawsuit against Sprout Foods because the plaintiffs did not connect the dots between heavy metals in baby food and the harm to children and it did not demonstrate there are cheaper and safer products available. (Thankfully, a California judge concluded just a month later that the plaintiff did connect the dots between toxic metals in baby food and autism sufficient to send the case to trial this summer.)
Discovery of Toxic Heavy Metals in Certain Baby Food Brands
In October 2019, a non-profit organization called Happy Babies Bright Futures (“HBBF”), published a report with the results of extensive testing performed on 168 different baby foods sold on the U.S. market. The HBBF report found that over 90% of the tested products were contaminated with arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. All but nine of 168 baby foods contained at least one of these metals and most contained more than one.
Specifically, the HBBF report identified “puffs and other snacks made with rice flour”, “teething biscuits and rice rusks”, “infant rice cereal”, “an apple, pear, grape, and other fruit juices”, and “carrots and sweet potatoes” manufactured by baby food companies as particularly high in the toxic metals.
This report kicked off concerns about heavy metals and baby food that ultimately led to the baby food autism lawsuits.
Congressional Report Confirms Findings of Toxic Heavy Metals in Baby Food
On February 4, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy issued a detailed investigative report entitled Baby Foods are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury (the “Congressional Report”). The Congressional Report confirmed the HBBF findings that many major baby food brands contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury.
The levels of these metals found in baby food were many times higher than the levels allowed for other products like bottled water. For example, the FDA’s maximum safe level for lead in bottled water is 5 ppb. The Congressional Report found that Beech-Nut brand baby foods tested as high as 886 ppb for lead and Hain Celestial (Nature’s Best) brands contained 641 ppb. Other major brands, including Gerber, Campbell Plum, and Walmart had lead levels between 25-40 ppb, which was still 5-10 times higher than the safe limit.
The most shocking finding contained in the Congressional Report, however, was that the food manufacturers were well aware that their products contained these high levels of toxic metals.
Internal testing at many manufacturers confirmed that the foods contained dangerously high levels of lead and other metals, but the products were sold anyway. Hain Celestial held a meeting with the FDA at which it acknowledged the heavy metal contamination in its baby food products.
The FDA under Trump did nothing in response to this Congressional Report. Under Biden? Nothing but baby steps. Very frustrating. For any victims, all they can do is file a baby food autism lawsuit to be heard and make a difference for their child.
What Led to the Congressional Inquiry?
In October 2019, a renowned public health organization, named “Healthy Babies Bright Futures” organization (HBBF), released a report titled “What’s in my baby’s food?” that documented a scientific study on early baby foods.
The testing conducted by HBBF found toxic heavy metals in 95% of the products tested, and one in four baby foods was found to contain all three dangerous metals, namely, arsenic, lead, and mercury.
The report further noted that even “trace amounts” of these toxic substances “can alter the developing brain and erode a child’s IQ.” Additionally, since these metals accumulate in the body over time, each meal or snack a baby eats can have a cumulative impact on the child’s health.
After the release of HBBF’s report, the House Subcommittee launched its inquiry.
Link Between Autism and Heavy Metals
Autism spectrum disorder (“autism”) is a neurologic disorder that impairs the individual’s ability to engage in normal social interactions, learning, and interpersonal communications. Autism comes in different levels of severity and a variety of related symptoms. Autism is not something that can be cured.
The exact causes of autism are not fully understood. But there are no serious experts – although defendants will look hard – disagreeing that exposure to heavy metals in early life can cause autism. The CDC and NIH have both noted that exposure to lead, in particular, can lead to neurodevelopmental effects in children, including autistic behaviors.
A 2016 consensus statement from a consortium of epidemiologists, autism experts, and medical organizations identified lead and mercury as toxic chemicals that can contribute to ASD. The study that we talked about above from the Healthy Babies Bright Futures organization found that 95% of early baby foods tested contained toxic heavy metals, with one in four containing arsenic, lead, and mercury. Other studies have found that exposure to heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic during early life is associated with the development of ASD.
These studies, which include prospective cohort studies, pre-natal studies, case-control and cross-sectional studies, and meta-analyses, have consistently found a positive association between exposure to heavy metals and the development of autism in children. The fact that these results have been replicated in multiple studies around the world, conducted by different researchers and measuring different end-points, strongly suggests a causal relationship between exposure to toxic metals, like the metals in baby food, and the development of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, in children.
There is evidence that the consumption of toxic heavy metals (such as in baby foods) can cause autism. Many studies – we describe a few below – released over the last decade have consistently found a positive association between exposure to toxic heavy metals (particularly during infancy and early childhood) and the development of autism.
Korean Study Linking Mercury and Autism
One of the first studies was published in 2014. This study found that environmental exposure to mercury during early infancy caused a twofold increase in the risk of developing autism. A 2017 cohort study of children in Korea found a similar link between mercury exposure and autism.
Buffalo Study Linking Arsenic and Autism
In 2019, researchers at the University of Buffalo published the results of an extensive study on the association between children’s exposure to arsenic and autism. The analysis concluded that there is consistent evidence supporting a positive association between early-life inorganic arsenic exposure and autism diagnosis.
New York Studying Linking Cadmium and Mercury to Autism
Similar results were observed in another systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2020 by researchers at the State University of New York. This study found a similar connection between autism and exposure to cadmium and mercury.
Lawsuits Alleging Heavy Metals in Baby Food Cause Autism
The Congressional Report about heavy metals in baby food has prompted many product liability lawsuits against baby food manufacturers by parents who allege that these products caused their children to develop autism.
The baby food autism lawsuits are based in part on findings in the Congressional Report. The report confirmed what baby food lawyers have been saying long before these autism lawsuits were being taken seriously. Baby food manufacturers were aware their food contained unsafe levels of heavy metals. Some baby food companies have ignored their internal testing procedures for detecting heavy metals in their products.
The foundation of every heavy metal food autism lawsuit is the complaint that these companies simply ignored test results finding dangerously high metal levels. Many of these companies violated their internal company standards in doing so. It is not too dramatic to say that it is putting profits over babies.
Other manufacturers, such as Hain Celestial, simply don’t bother to test their products for heavy metal contamination levels. Some companies, such as Plum Organics and Sprout Foods, Inc., refused to cooperate with the congressional investigation, so we don’t know what testing they may have done on their products. All these baby food companies either knew or should have known about the scientific research linking exposure to heavy metals in baby food causes autism.
So the core argument in every baby food autism lawsuit is that these defendants strategically positioned their baby foods in the market to maximize profits, fully aware of the potential harm to consumers. They operated under the guise that their food was safe for human consumption while knowingly concealing the real dangers posed by the toxic heavy metal contained within these products. Why would they hide this? This concealment was likely driven by a motive to maximize sales, as full disclosure of these risks would likely have diminished their profits.
Remember, this scheme was executed not just through misleading labels. It was through a calculated mix of selective and misleading research, inadequate testing, false advertising, and deliberate omissions. These tactics are detailed in many baby food lawsuits.
As a result, parents were deprived of the essential information needed to make informed decisions about purchasing these Baby Foods for their children, fully understanding the associated risks. Such reckless actions, these lawsuits allege, exhibited a blatant disregard for the rights of the plaintiffs.
Universal Agreement on Lead in Baby Food
Lead is a heavy metal that is a known neurotoxin and carcinogen. It is readily absorbed into body tissue and is hard to expel, making it harmful for a longer time.
This is not just the musing of a lawyer looking to file a baby food autism lawsuit. There is widespread agreement on the perils of children consuming lead.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC): “No safe blood lead level has been identified.”
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA): There is no known identified safe blood lead level.”
- The World Health Organization (WHO): The neurological and behavioral effects of lead are believed to be irreversible. There is no known ‘safe’ blood lead concentration…”
- The American Medical Association (AMA): “We know that there is no safe level of lead.”
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): “There is no safe level of lead exposure in children, with lasting decreases in cognition documented in children with blood levels as low as 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in blood.”
The House Report on baby food found up to 177 times – 177 times! – more than the levels of lead deemed acceptable for adults. So why do we continue to allow lead in baby food? This recent study provides one answer. We are not getting decisions and recommendations from neutral third parties with our children’s best interests in mind. We are getting it from people in the industry who profit from not properly monitoring the lead levels in the food that we are giving our children.
Symptoms of Heavy Metal Toxicity in Toddlers
One of the initial signs of heavy metal toxicity in toddlers is often gastrointestinal distress. Parents may notice symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. These discomforting signs can be early indicators that something is amiss.
Neurological Red Flags
Changes in a toddler’s behavior and neurological functioning can be alarming. Children experiencing heavy metal toxicity might become irritable, fatigued, and display difficulties sleeping. Headaches, poor concentration, and learning challenges can also emerge.
Behavioral and Developmental Shifts
Heavy metal exposure can lead to notable behavioral and developmental changes in toddlers. Increased aggression or irritability may surface, as well as developmental delays. Speech and language difficulties and impaired motor skills could also be observed.
Skin and Hair Alterations
External manifestations of heavy metal toxicity might include skin rashes or changes in hair texture. Such physical indicators could initially be mistaken for other common childhood conditions.
Respiratory symptoms, although less common, can be linked to heavy metal exposure. Coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing might be signs of a deeper issue.
Other general symptoms include fever, weight loss, loss of appetite, joint pain, and muscle weakness. These indicators, when observed collectively, can point toward heavy metal toxicity.
It is really important for parents to keep in mind these same symptoms are symptoms of many other things that do not involve teh risk of brain damage. Identifying heavy metal toxicity in toddlers can be challenging, as these symptoms can be easily attributed to other common childhood illnesses or conditions. So if you have concerns, it is not hard to get a blood test to check your child’s lead levels.
Example of Baby Food Autism Lawsuit
Not long after the Congressional Report detailing the extent of heavy metal contamination in various major baby food brands was made public, a group of baby food autism lawsuits was filed across the country. These autism lawsuits asserted that the baby food companies knew that their products contained unsafe levels of toxic heavy metals and that the plaintiffs developed autism as a proximate result of consuming the metals in these foods.
One of these contaminated baby food autism lawsuits was the case of Lawrence v. Hain Celestial Group, et al., 1:21-cv-01287 (E.D. NY), which was filed in federal court in New York in March 2021.
The 50-page complaint in Lawrence sets forth the full story behind the discovery of toxic levels of heavy metals in baby foods, starting with the HBBF call to action to the subsequent congressional investigation. The complaint lays out a detailed statement of the scientific causation evidence regarding the link between autism and exposure to lead, arsenic, mercury, and other heavy metals during early childhood development.
In the “Plaintiff-Specific Allegations” section, the baby food causes autism lawsuit states that the baby was regularly fed Earth’s Best Organic and other baby food brands manufactured by the defendants. The complaint relies on the congressional report for its assertion that these foods were contaminated with various heavy metals and claims, based on “prevailing scientific evidence,” that consuming these metals in baby food causes autism.
The complaint sets forth seven separate product liability causes of action. The causes of action included strict liability claims for failure to warn, design defect, and manufacturing defect. The four negligence claims were based on the same three3 theories, plus an additional claim for negligent misrepresentation.
February 2022 Baby Food Class Action Lawsuit
Baby food manufacturers Gerber, Beech-Nut, Nuture Inc., Plum Inc., Sprout Foods, and Walmart, were named as defendants in a new consumer toxic baby food class action lawsuit filed last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court. This autism baby food lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated numerous consumer protection laws by falsely marketing their products as safe when they contained dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic.
The plaintiffs seeking to represent the class are 13 individuals who allegedly purchased and used baby food products manufactured by the defendants. None of the plaintiffs (or their children) have suffered any physical injuries and the lawsuit only seeks economic and statutory damages.
The factual allegations in this baby food lawsuit are drawn almost entirely from the data reported last year in a U.S. Congressional subcommittee report about toxic metal contamination in baby foods.
The bigger question is whether there will be a baby food autism class action lawsuit. There are not enough cases yet. But this litigation is gaining steam. So we see if a class action is on the horizon in these heavy metal baby food lawsuits.
What has to happen before a baby food lawsuit makes it to trial? The big thing is getting the trial judge to agree that the science shows there is a link between baby food and autism. There are good studies that link heavy metal and autism. But baby food autism lawyers need to show that this link extends to the metals in baby food.
In federal court cases, courts use a process called Daubert to determine if the science is strong enough to proceed to trial. In California, the process is called Sargon. Both are named after court cases that set federal and California standards for whether the science presented by the experts is sufficient. If toxic baby food lawyers get past this hurdle, that could compel baby food makers to work harder to get rid of toxic heavy metals in their products… and offer reasonable settlement amounts for the pending toxic baby food lawsuits.
In the California lawsuits, four heavy hitter experts testified for the plaintiffs:
- Dr. Beate Ritz (epidemiologist at UCLA)
- Dr. Hannah Gardener (Epidemiologist at the University of Miami)
- Dr. Michael Aschner (Professor of Neuroscience at Albert Einstein)
- Dr. Kevin Shapiro (Executive Director of Research and Therapeutic Technologies at Cortica)
It would seem difficult to suggest that these experts do not employ well-tested science to form their conclusions. We will see.[Update: The Sargon hearing did happen. The hearing allowed both sides to present their experts and explain the scientific evidence that supports their arguments. Judge Amy D. Hogue of the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles held the Sargon hearing for this case in two parts, with the plaintiffs presenting their experts in January and February and the defendants presenting their experts in March. Judge Hogue determined that the plaintiff’s experts had used valid methodologies to arrive at their scientific conclusions that heavy metals can cause autism and other disorders in children. So the case continues in a big win for not just these plaintiffs but every family who has brought or is considering bringing a claim.] [Update to the Update: But the experts were eventually stricken and the case was dismissed.]
Baby Food Autism Settlement Amounts
If toxic baby food lawsuits alleging autism are successful, the settlement amounts in these cases could be enormous.
Settlement Amounts Are Speculative at This Point
But let’s take a step back. Estimating the settlement payouts for any personal injury claim is inherently speculative. There are so many variables and no two cases are exactly alike in terms of the various factors that impact settlement compensation or a jury payout. This is true with any mass tort but it is particularly true in the baby food litigation – we have not won a case yet.
Not Many Injuries Comparable to Autism
Estimating the settlement amounts for a baby food autism lawsuit is a particular challenge. The most reliable method of estimating settlement value is by looking at settlements in prior cases involving comparable injuries and other circumstances.
For a toxic baby food lawsuit, however, prior comps don’t exist. There have never been any successful tort lawsuits in which autism was the primary injury. Previous efforts to link autism to some type of negligent action have generally failed.
Birth Injury Cases Are Lens to Settlement Amounts in Baby Food Autism Lawsuits
In the absence of prior settlements or verdicts awarding compensation for autism, our baby food lawyers look at prior cases involving injuries with similarities to autism. The best comps for this are probably birth injury malpractice cases involving permanent neurologic injuries. Neurologic birth injuries are comparable to autism because they result in:
- permanent limitations in a child’s mental functioning,
- a lifetime of future medical care, and
- a lifetime of future lost income from reduced earning capacity.
Birth injury cases involving permanent neurologic injuries have a very high settlement value. Birth injury cases involving cerebral palsy have the highest average settlement value of any type of personal injury malpractice. Cerebral palsy is not a good comparable injury to autism because C.P. often involves severe physical disabilities and more extensive medical care.
Successful Lawsuit Settlement Compensation Amount Predictions
The best comparable lawsuit is those involving neurologic birth injuries that result in mental but not physical impairment. Cases involving this type of permanent injury to a child have an average jury payout in the range of $1,200,000 to $5,000,000 depending on the severity level of the mental impairment.
The toxic baby food autism cases would probably have a somewhat lower settlement value because of the potential problems with establishing causation. Realistically, there is also the question of how much these companies would be able to pay without declaring bankruptcy. This is a hard variable to bake into a settlement amount estimate.
Assuming there is enough money to pay settlements and solid causation evidence linking baby food metal to autism – this was a quantum leap assumption that is less of a leap after the court’s ruling in May 2022 I talk about above – toxic baby food lawsuits alleging autism could have a settlement value of around $450,000 to $1,500,000, depending on the severity of the autism.
Some Baby Foods Are Safe
The list of baby foods with heavy metals in 2024 is a long as your arm. But the narrative the baby food manufacturers want to push in these toxic baby food lawsuits is that these toxins are just in the environment and they cannot make baby food without these toxic metals is not true. Not all baby food brands are contaminated with unsafe levels of toxic heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury.
There are a number of companies making baby foods that do not contain heavy metals above the maximum safe levels set by health authorities. These companies use higher-quality ingredients with fewer heavy metals and also perform strict product quality testing on the contamination levels of their product before they leave the production line.
Below is a list of “safe” baby foods that ensure their products do not contain high levels of toxins and heavy metals.
- Once Upon a Farm: this is a new company that makes baby foods with higher quality, organic ingredients and ensures that there are no high levels of heavy metals. The downside is that they also do not use any preservatives on their products, so everything has to be refrigerated. Once Upon a Farm says that it won the Clean Label Purity Award after independent testing of its products for over 400 distinct contaminants, encompassing heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides, and various toxins. (It did have a small recall for mold last year which underscores the perils of no preseratives. Still, there is a lot less to fear with mold than toxic metals that cause brain injury.)
- Yumi: Yumi has some of the strictest product quality control testing in the industry. Not only do they test their finished products, but they also test for metals in the organic ingredients before they use them. Yumi also sources its ingredients based on an analysis of soil contamination data to determine what the safest growing locations are.
- Little Spoon: this is a fresh baby food company that makes its products without preservatives and delivers them to customers directly on a subscription basis. This allows them to ensure the highest quality without heavy metals.
So it can be done. In addition to buying higher-quality baby foods that test for heavy metals, there are other ways to reduce the amount of heavy metals your child consumes in their diet. One of the best ways is to avoid giving them fruit juice. Juice, especially certain types like grape juice, often contains high trace levels of arsenic. Another tip is to avoid feeding your child rice-based products because rice absorbs metals in the soil and tends to have the highest trace amounts of heavy metals.
Get a Lawyer to Fight for You and Your Child
Our lawyers are dedicated to holding these companies accountable and obtaining justice for affected individuals and families. Contact us to learn more about your path to compensation. Call our legal team today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082 or contact our law firm online.