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Thread: Nitrates?

  1. #1

    Default Nitrates?

    Ok so whats the deal here? What are nitrates and why is theer such a problem with babies having them??
    Newly Pregnant momma to My little Miss Gracie with a little sibling on the way.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Re: Nitrates?

    I found the following Q&A forum here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Nitrates in homemade veggies?
    Nitrates in homemade veggies?

    March 2000
    It's about time to introduce my baby to carrots, but I've heard that home-cooked carrots may contain high levels of nitrates. I checked the Berkeley Parents' website, and saw that this question was asked a little over a year ago, but apparently never answered. Is there anyone out there now who knows if I really need to avoid home-cooked carrots? Thanks.

    According to the book _Feeding your Child for Lifelong Health_ by Susan B. Roberts and Melvin B. Heyman (Jane Brody had given it a good write-up in the NY Times a few months ago), high-nitrate vegetables should not be home-prepared before eight months. It is okay to buy commercial baby foods because manufacturers screen their produce before buying it. High-nitrate vegetables include beets, carrots, green beans, squash, turnips, spinach and collard greens.
    The reason to avoid nitrates, from what I understand of the authors' explanation, is that young babies convert nitrates (with an "a") into nitrites (with an "i"). Nitrites (found in hot dogs, hams, sausages, etc.) can cause a form of anemia called methemoglobinemia. As stated in the book, "... nitrites transform your baby's immature hemoglobin into methemoglobine, which is unable to transport life-sustaining oxygen around the body."

    There are high amounts of nitrates in carrots, spinach and several other vegetables. In rare instances, babies under a year old can have very bad reactions to them. Baby food companies purchase these vegetables from growers that test and condition the soil to ensure a lower nitrate content. There is a paragraph or two in the What to Expect the First Year book about avoiding vegetable nitrates during the first year.
    Many moms, particularly first-timers, seem to want to go the extra yard and make their own baby food. I commend this attitude, but frankly, as a mom who works full-time and is the primary person in charge of all house-related issues (my partner has a VERY time-consuming and stressful job, so given the choice, I'd rather he spend quality time w/ the baby, and me), I could not even IMAGINE having the time and energy to 'make my own'. There are quite a few baby foods on the market, which are VERY good, and honestly, they even taste okay! Look for the ones that are simply veggies, nothing else.
    When I introduced our baby to carrots, she LOVED them -- in fact, the pediatrician laughed that he didn't have to ask us if she was eating her veggies, 'cause she had a faintly 'orange' color to her, so he *knew* that she loved her carrots!

    My pediatrician also said that nitrates are not of concern in carrots in our area. (In fact our pediatrician said that the only problems he ever encountered with babies who had homemade babyfood were problems relating to salt. I don't usually use any salt in cooking, and since I always made my son's baby food in bigger separate batches from our own it was a non issue for us.) Also, when I was in the midst of the homemade baby food, I read MANY articles that said that nitrates were only an issue if the child was under 6 months. After that the liver should be able to handle the nitrates. Nitrates are not just found in carrots either. I can't remember the list now that I am out of that stage, but I think that turnips were on it too.
    There are no nitrates in whole, organic, unprocessed carrots.
    I got this response from the American Dietetic Association: "Due to fertilization, root vegetables may contain small amounts of nitrites. We would recommend that you utilize organically grown produce if this a concern. If prepared and stored in a safe manner, homemade babyfood is fine.
    For safety issues the following resource has a section on babyfood prepartion safety: The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide by Duyff ISBN 0-471-34658-6 call 800-877-1600 ext 5000"

    Registered Dietitian Knowledge Center - Consumer Division The American Dietetic Association

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