Baby Food Autism Lawsuits

Parents of infants rely on baby food as a key source of vitamins and nutrients as they transition into eating solid foods. Baby food manufacturers appear to have taken advantage of parents’ trust in their products by continuing to profit from items contaminated by heavy metals. Exposure to heavy metals as an infant can lead to irreparable brain damage that manifests as behavioral issues, learning disabilities, and neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.

To recover compensation for the damages inflicted by these conditions, parents across the country are filing product liability lawsuits against well-known baby food manufacturers like Gerber. Lawsuit Legal News affiliated product liability lawyers are now scheduling free consultations with parents who believe that their child’s autism or developmental issues are related to the tainted baby food they were fed as infants.

If you are interested in discussing your toxic baby food autism claim in more detail with one of our respected product liability attorneys, we encourage you to call us at (866) 535-9515 or fill out our online contact form.

Why You Should Hire a Product Liability Lawyer to Handle Your Toxic Baby Food Claim

At Lawsuit Legal News, our team of product liability attorneys understands the long-term costs of autism and other developmental disorders for neurodivergent individuals and their families based on our experience representing clients in the Tylenol autism lawsuits. With this insight, we are well-equipped to identify the full scope of damages you have already incurred, as well as the types of costs you or your child may face in the future. 

Furthermore, we are familiar with the most effective methods for establishing the value of your losses to secure maximum compensation for your personal injury claim. As a client, you can expect that our product liability lawyers will remain in close communication with you, provide you with an honest and informed perspective, and give your case the attention that it deserves.

During our years of service, we have learned that there is no substitute for diligence. The toxic baby food autism claims rely on emerging and nuanced scientific evidence, so you need an advocate who recognizes that details matter. As your toxic baby food autism attorneys, our skilled team will be meticulous in research and documentation, so you can feel confident that your product liability claim will be successful. 

Toxic Baby Food Autism Lawsuit Updates

The team at Lawsuit Legal News is dedicated to bringing our readers updates on the Toxic Baby Food Autism Lawsuit so that you can stay on top of the proceedings and legal implications. Come back often to stay on top of this growing litigation.

February 6, 2024 - Which Products and Toxins Are Involved in a Potential Baby Food Autism Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)?

Plaintiff parents whose children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or ADHD after consuming baby food with high levels of heavy metals have requested the formation of a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) to efficiently address their legal rights. These plaintiffs name various baby food producers as defendants, including big corporations such as:

  • Gerber
  • Beech-Nut
  • Nestle
  • Nurture
  • Hain
  • Campbell
  • Danone
  • Sprout and
  • Walmart

The lawsuits claim these producers sold baby foods that harmed their children because they contained toxic levels of metals, including lead, mercury, and arsenic, that led to their children's neurodevelopmental problems.

If the federal cases are combined, the Panel that will decide the new location could consider Nevada, California, or Louisiana since several cases are currently pending in those court systems. The very first baby food autism lawsuit filed in the country is already scheduled for trial in August 2024, so that case would be excluded from the MDL.

February 2, 2024 - Some Plaintiffs in the Toxic Heavy Metal Baby Food Lawsuits Have Requested a MDL Hearing

Some of the plaintiffs in the toxic baby food lawsuits have filed a motion for a hearing by the JPML in hopes that their cases will be consolidated in a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL).

If they are successful, an MDL will improve efficiency, streamline the proceedings, allow for consistent rulings, and speed up the process. If the plaintiffs' cases are successful, the MDL will help them receive settlements sooner than through the traditional legal process.

Whether or not the JPML will consolidate the cases is yet to be determined.

December 2023 - California Plaintiffs Seek an Additional Opportunity to Demonstrate Cause in an Appeal

Despite the setback they experienced in October, the California plaintiffs are filing an appeal of Judge Riff’s dismissal in hopes that they will be able to proceed with their product liability claim against baby food manufacturers. In the meantime, we may receive additional reports on the status of heavy metals in baby food that could help provide further context.

August to October 2023 - California Implements Stricter Safety Standards and Plaintiffs Struggle to Establish Causation

California has begun requiring monthly testing of baby food products for potential contaminants like heavy metals. Consumers will eventually be able to access this information via QR codes on food labels. The passage of this regulation represents a positive step towards holding baby food manufacturers accountable.

Unfortunately, California plaintiffs have not been as successful in this effort as of late. State Court Judge Lawrence Riff dismissed a toxic baby food autism claim after the plaintiff’s expert witness testimony failed to meet the standard for admissibility in a Sargon hearing. The judge noted that the amount of conjecture present in the testimony rendered the argument for cause untenable, as did the fact that the child was fed several different baby foods.

June 2023 - Consumer Reports Study Finds Alarming Amounts of Heavy Metals in Baby Food

Consumer Reports has identified dangerous quantities of lead, cadmium, and arsenic in several popular brands of baby food. These heavy metals have previously been linked to cognitive impairments and developmental issues in children who were exposed to these toxins. Plaintiffs hope to bolster their product liability claims with this information.

March to May 2023 - FDA Faces Criticism in Absence of Regulations and New Toxic Baby Food Claims Are Filed

In Nevada, a group of plaintiffs has leveled accusations against multiple baby food manufacturers, claiming they are owed punitive and compensatory damages after contaminated baby food led to their children’s health issues. Meanwhile, other product liability claims pertaining to tainted baby food have faced mixed results. 

In Texas, a second toxic baby food autism claim was dismissed based on insufficient scientific evidence offered by the plaintiffs. On the other hand, a California toxic baby food autism claim is scheduled for trial in October. Additionally, the FDA has proven to be the source of some obstacles regarding toxic baby food. 

While the FDA did address acceptable lead levels for baby food products, it has yet to provide regulations for other heavy metals. Legislators have reprimanded the FDA for the continued delays in a scathing letter addressed to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf. Many members of the public and Congress felt that this issue should be a priority for the FDA. Despite mounting pressure, the agency has now removed the deadlines it had set to issue guidance on heavy metals from its website.

January 2023 - FDA Publishes New Guidance on Lead Levels in Baby Food

As a federal agency, the FDA has the authority to propose regulations within the scope of its mandate. The FDA has suggested that lead levels in baby food products should be capped at 10 parts per billion. This includes fruits, vegetables, grain, and meat mixtures.

Now, the public will have the opportunity to comment on the regulation, as will other government agencies and departments. Once the rulemaking process is complete, the FDA will be able to enforce the new standard.

2022 Developments in the Toxic Baby Food Autism Claims

Plaintiffs in California secured an early success when a judge rejected a motion that would have made their expert testimony inadmissible evidence. Had the court sided with the defendants, the toxic baby food claim would not have been able to proceed because the expert witnesses’ testimony was necessary to support the plaintiffs’ assertion heavy metals in baby food caused their son’s autism. 

This claim is one of a growing number of product liability lawsuits brought against Walmart, though other baby food companies like Gerber are facing similar claims. By the end of 2022, baby food manufacturers began pushing for the product liability claims to be dismissed, citing their lack of scientific evidence. Further, they argued that the preemption of federal standards over state laws renders the claims invalid because they complied with the higher authority.

Multiple Investigations Find Unsafe Levels of Heavy Metals in Baby Food

In the last few years, parents of young children have been confronted with multiple crises related to tainted baby food. The news of heavy metals in baby food led to public outcry in 2021, followed by a critical baby formula shortage in 2022. Like infant formula, baby food is subject to stringent regulations to ensure that it is safe for consumption by children. 

When multiple sources raised concerns about the presence of toxins in baby food, parents understandably directed their concerns at agencies like the FDA as well as the baby food manufacturers. The allegations were first made by the Clean Label Project in 2017 after their testing revealed lead in about a third of the 500 baby food products they used. Further inquiries by the FDA and consumer advocacy groups confirmed the presence of lead and other heavy metals in a significant portion of baby food. This campaign culminated in a Congressional investigation

In 2021, the results of that probe were made publicly available. Earlier concerns were justified, as the report confirmed that heavy metals were found in baby food products from various companies, particularly in rice and root vegetable-based products. Investigators found evidence that manufacturers did not abide by federal or internal safety standards, nor did they conduct adequate testing. The release of this report initially prompted panic among parents, which has solidified into a wave of product liability lawsuits.

What Heavy Metals Have Been Found in Baby Food

The term heavy metals broadly describes a class of metals and metalloids with high densities or atomic numbers. It has developed a negative connotation linked to cases of contamination, but many heavy metals are commonplace and fairly innocuous, such as silver and gold. In fact, certain heavy metals like iron and zinc are actually necessary for the human body to function.

The heavy metals that have been detected in baby food are also naturally occurring but toxic when ingested.

Thus far, researchers have identified the following harmful heavy metals in baby foods:

  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Mercury

While we typically think of lead poisoning in connection to old paint or decaying pipes, there are other sources of exposure in nature, such as soil. The accumulation of excessive lead in the body can manifest as stomach pain, agitation, and, in extreme cases, damage to the central nervous system or brain. Like lead, arsenic has often become synonymous with poison in modern vernacular, and with good reason. The carcinogen arsenic is more commonly found in groundwater, though it has also been detected in air and soil. 

Airborn cadmium exposure is typically occupation-related, where it has been known to cause severe respiratory issues. When individuals are subject to harmful levels of cadmium in contaminated water or food, they tend to present with joint pain, kidney damage, and cardiovascular problems. Some research also indicates cadmium may be a carcinogen. Testing has also found mercury in baby food, which is highly alarming considering that organic mercury poisoning can result in damage to the brain and spinal cord.

How Contaminants in Baby Food Can Interfere With Healthy Brain Development in Infants

Infants are more susceptible to the harmful effects of toxins like heavy metals because their brains are developing rapidly. A baby who is exposed to significant levels of heavy metals like lead can suffer brain damage when the lead interferes with the brain’s ability to absorb sufficient calcium. While pediatricians often encourage parents to increase their children’s calcium intake to grow strong bones, the mineral is also critical in enabling the brain to form neural connections. 

Calcium helps produce a vital protein called the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Among other tasks, BDNF facilitates the transmission of messages via the gaps between neurons, known as synapses. Researchers have also identified BDNF as key to enabling functions like learning and memory. If a child is exposed to enough toxins, over time, the neural pathways can languish, potentially leading to permanent cognitive impairments.

Neurodevelopmental Conditions That May Be Connected to Toxins in Baby Food

The consequences of ingesting heavy metals as an infant have been credibly, if not definitively or exclusively, linked to autism spectrum disorder. There is a lack of scientific consensus on the exact causes of autism, though most researchers recognize a combination of environmental factors and genetic components are likely at play. Thus far, the focus of the toxic baby food claims has primarily been on the causal relationship between heavy metal exposure and autism, but the following conditions are also associated with excessive levels of toxins:

  • Developmental delays
  • Learning disabilities
  • Diminished IQ
  • Behavioral issues
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Cancer
  • Weakened immune systems

Which Baby Food Companies Have Been Accused of Negligence

Major baby food brands are facing scrutiny from outraged parents for failing to prevent heavy metal contamination and neglecting to warn consumers about the danger. Evidence suggests that multiple baby food manufacturers did not bother to test their products for heavy metals before putting them on store shelves or only tested the components, rendering the results unreliable.

Several baby food companies have refuted the allegations that the amounts of lead and other toxins in their products constitute a threat to infants’ brain development. Parents have filed baby food autism lawsuits against companies, including:

  • Gerber
  • Sprout Foods, Inc. 
  • Nurture, Inc. for its HappyBABY products 
  • Beech-Nut Nutrition Company 
  • Hain Celestial Group, Inc. for its Earth's Best Organic products
  • Campbell Soup Company for its Plum Organics products
  • Walmart Inc. for its Parent's Choice products

What Damages Are Available in the Baby Food Autism Lawsuits

Conditions like autism spectrum disorder can have life-long financial and emotional implications for the individual, as well as their family. Plaintiffs in baby food autism lawsuits will need to establish that their injury resulted in the damages for which they are seeking compensation. Compensatory damages can be divided into economic and non-economic damages in a product liability lawsuit. 

Economic damages can refer to financial losses sustained by the parents as well as the child as a result of their diagnosis. For example, children with neurodevelopmental disorders or learning disabilities may require additional support in the form of tutors and therapists. In some cases, children need professional caretakers. Plaintiffs may seek compensation to offset the cost of these services. The long-term impact of a cognitive development issue can have monetary consequences for the child as they age, preventing them from securing or maintaining higher-paying positions. Their reduced earning potential can be considered economic damage.

Neurodevelopmental conditions can also result in non-economic damages, which are intangible costs. Children with autism may struggle to socialize, achieve academically, and function at an age-appropriate level. This can lead to a diminished quality of life and emotional distress, both of which are recognized as non-economic damages in a personal injury lawsuit. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which baby foods are most likely to be contaminated?

According to a Consumer Reports study, baby foods that include carrots, sweet potatoes, and rice can be more likely to contain harmful levels of heavy metals. Root vegetables like carrots have prolonged contact with soil and dirt that may naturally possess heavy metals such as lead. The rice is prone to absorb arsenic and cadmium from groundwater, leading to higher levels of the toxin.

These claims are not directly associated, but they do have many similarities. As time has passed, science has helped determine that some substances and products come with previously unknown harmful effects. It is likely that other products will be shown to have a connection to an increase in autism risk among consumers. However, lawsuits such as those involving baby food and Tylenol's risk of causing autism are considered separate.

A key takeaway from both claims is that infant’s brains are highly malleable and vulnerable to damage from defective products. On another note, the recent setbacks of the Tylenol autism multidistrict litigation in federal court also provide the toxic baby food plaintiffs with a stark reminder about the importance of having clear scientific evidence to support a claim.

What does it cost to hire a baby food autism attorney?

There is no upfront cost associated with hiring a personal injury lawyer. In fact, you aren’t responsible for any out-of-pocket payments. Personal injury attorneys recover a contingency fee, which is about 33% of the settlement or court awards. You also only pay this fee if your lawyer attains compensation for you. Otherwise, they are only entitled to a percentage of nothing.

How a Product Liability Lawyer Can Be an Asset to Your Toxic Baby Food Autism Lawsuit

As we have just seen with the Tylenol autism lawsuits, scientific evidence can make or break a product liability claim. Product liability attorneys have access to credible expert witnesses who can help bolster your case, and they have the communication skills to persuasively leverage the evidence in favor of your argument. This takes the pressure off of you to create negotiating strategies, compile a cohesive narrative, and sift through data to make a compelling claim. 

An additional consideration to make is a few of the toxic baby food autism claims have already gone to trial, so it is important to be prepared for that possibility. You will need a baby food autism attorney who has successfully negotiated against powerful defendants in court to have the best chance of a fair settlement. Otherwise, you risk their legal team taking advantage of your lack of litigation experience and undermining your claim.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney About Your Baby Food Autism Lawsuit

Learning that negligent manufacturers have contaminated your baby’s food can leave you with a sense of being betrayed. At Lawsuit Legal News, we share your frustration at the recklessness baby food manufacturers have displayed in failing to properly test their products and warn consumers about the presence of heavy metals. Our team is working closely with plaintiffs to rectify their financial and emotional losses, as well as hold the defendants liable.

As your personal injury attorneys, we will not be shy about advocating for you and your child to receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (866) 535-9515 or fill out our online contact form today. Our product liability attorneys will review the circumstances of your case, inform you of your rights, and outline the process of seeking compensation.

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