Study Finds Lead Content A Factor

Drinking tea is a soothing part of life for many, but a recent Canadian study has found that tea may have an unexpected ingredient — lead, which is a huge no-no for pregnant women.

Woman drinking tea

A fetus is particularly vulnerable to toxins, with lead being one of those. You wouldn’t necessarily think to look for lead content in your cup of tea, however. But researchers in Canada have discovered exactly that, and warn that the levels can be high enough to be a concern for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Tainted tea

Researchers at the University of Alberta analyzed the content of 30 popular brands and types of tea bags. They checked for a variety of elements, lead being one — what they found was surprising, and not in a good way.

They discovered that 73 percent of teas brewed for five minutes and 83 percent of teas brewed for 15 minutes contained lead levels well above .5 micrograms, which is the limit determined safe by Proposition 65 (California’s toxic chemical program).

When several cups of tea are consumed, this amount just adds up and can be a problem for a developing fetus.

Highest levels

Researchers found that teas that originates from China have the highest levels — Oolong tea got the dubious honor of the top spot, followed by green tea and black tea. Organic teas that were brewed longer than 15 minutes were found to have the highest lead levels.

Lead toxicity can lead to coma and death when very high amounts are involved, but smaller amounts are still toxic and may be associated with reduced IQ and difficulty in school.

The researchers involved recommend that tea consumption be severely restricted for pregnant women and they hope that authorities consider public health warnings and labeling, and even industry regulation on lead content in tea.

In the meantime, if you’re expecting (or nursing a young baby), you might consider curbing your tea habit if you have one, just to be on the safe side.

More on prenatal health

Easy ways to clean up your pregnancy diet
Should pregnant women limit fish consumption during pregnancy?
Quick snacks for pregnant and breastfeeding moms

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