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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

There is (still) too much aluminium in infant formulas

Shelle-Ann M Burrell1 and Christopher Exley2*

Author Affiliations

1 Life Sciences, Huxley Building, Keele University, Staffordshire, UK

2 The Birchall Centre, Lennard-Jones Laboratories, Keele University, Staffordshire, UK

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BMC Pediatrics 2010, 10:63  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-63

Published: 31 August 2010



Infant formulas are sophisticated milk-based feeds for infants which are used as a substitute for breast milk. Historically they are known to be contaminated by aluminium and in the past this has raised health concerns for exposed infants. We have measured the aluminium content of a number of widely used infant formulas to determine if their contamination by aluminium and consequent issues of child health persists.


Samples of ready-made milks and powders used to make milks were prepared by microwave digestion of acid/peroxide mixtures and their aluminium content determined by THGA.


The concentration of aluminium in ready-made milks varied from ca 176 to 700 μg/L. The latter concentration was for a milk for preterm infants. The aluminium content of powders used to make milks varied from ca 2.4 to 4.3 μg/g. The latter content was for a soya-based formula and equated to a ready-to-drink milk concentration of 629 μg/L. Using the manufacturer's own guidelines of formula consumption the average daily ingestion of aluminium from infant formulas for a child of 6 months varied from ca 200 to 600 μg of aluminium. Generally ingestion was higher from powdered as compared to ready-made formulas.


The aluminium content of a range of well known brands of infant formulas remains high and particularly so for a product designed for preterm infants and a soya-based product designed for infants with cow's milk intolerances and allergies. Recent research demonstrating the vulnerability of infants to early exposure to aluminium serves to highlight an urgent need to reduce the aluminium content of infant formulas to as low a level as is practically possible.