Baby Food Autism Lawsuits Over Toxic Metal Contamination Cleared to Move Forward

Manufacturers attempted to exclude expert witness testimony presented in a toxic baby food lawsuit that alleges metal contamination caused a child to develop autism and ADHD.

A California state court judge has cleared the way for a number of baby food autism lawsuits to move forward against Gerber, Beech-Nut, Walmart and other manufacturers, rejecting an attempt to exclude plaintiffs expert witnesses establishing a link between toxic metals recently found in the baby food and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other injuries.

A growing number of baby food lawsuits have been filed over the last year, following a congressional report that revealed many popular products contain high levels of toxic heavy metals, including lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury, which may cause severe health problems and developmental challenges for children.

In April 2021, the U.S. Congressional report highlighted internal documents and testing results for products sold by a number of companies, indicating that many baby foods contain high levels metals that may pose serious health risks for children, with more than 91 times the maximum level of arsenic allowed in bottled water; 177 times the allowable levels of lead, 69 times the limits on cadmium, and five times the levels of allowable mercury.

Since then, a steadily growing number of toxic baby food autism lawsuits have been filed by families nationwide, alleging that manufacturers played on the parents’ trust that products would be safe, concealing the levels of toxic heavy metals present for years. The lawsuits indicate the defendants knew that if consumers were aware of the high levels of toxic metals that parents would never willingly agree to purchase.

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Toxic baby food sold by Gerber, Beech-Nut and other manufacturers contain dangerous levels of heavy metals, which may be the cause of autism and severe ADHD for children.

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One such claim was filed by Lorenzo and Melissa Cantabrana, who claim their son, Noah, developed autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) after he ate baby food contaminated with lead, mercury and arsenic. They filed the lawsuit against several manufacturers, as well as Walmart and Ralphs, in September 2021 in Superior Court in Los Angeles County.

In response to the lawsuit, a number of defendants have tried to have the case dismissed by calling for the Court to exclude Plaintiffs’ expert testimony on general causation. Had they succeeded, there would be no way for the Cantabranas to prove baby food caused their son’s injuries in court and the case would have likely been dismissed.

However, on May 24, Judge Amy D. Hogue, of Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, issued a ruling (PDF) denying defendants’ motion to have plaintiffs’ expert testimony dismissed, meaning the lawsuit will proceed.

Although the manufacturers continue to maintain that their baby food is safe and appropriately labeled, the FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have long maintained that exposing infants and children to toxic heavy metals can cause a permanent decrease in IQ, an increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior, and untreatable and frequently permanent brain damage.

Heavy metal exposure to infants is a serious concern. Lead exposure at any level is extremely unsafe for children. Prior studies have linked heavy metal exposure to behavioral impairments, brain damage, damage to the nervous system, seizures, growth impairments, and even death.

Following the ruling, it is expected that a growing number of toxic baby food lawsuits will soon be filed on behalf of children nationwide who have been diagnosed with autism, ADHD or other injuries in recent years.

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