The products most often found to contain lead were fruit juices, root vegetable-based foods, and certain cookies, such as teething biscuits, the EDF reports.
Also, they are not sure that those foods with low levels were the result of a stricter manufacturer who stuck to the regulations or everything just happened by chance.
The report, released Thursday, is alarming, said Dr. Jennifer Lowry, pediatrician and toxicologist at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Environmental Health.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns parents that there's no such thing as a "safe level of lead" in kids' blood, and one of its child health programs is focused specifically on reducing childhood lead exposure.
How numerous samples had detectable levels of lead? "Only a slight difference in IQ is enough to sometimes cause difficulty in school and learning".
The Environmental Defense Fund analyzed publicly available data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Total Diet Study, which each year collects samples of food from around the country and tests it for a host of nutrients and contaminants, including lead. In March of this year, the EDF submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to get that brand-level data from the agency. Researchers came to the conclusion that eating baby foods might make people six percent more likely to consume lead.
The analysis found that at least one sample in 52 of the 57 types of baby food had detectable levels of lead.
The report found 20% of the 2,164 baby food samples were positive for lead, compared with 14% of the 10,064 regular food samples.
But the researchers argue that government standards don't reflect current scientific research. The latest research suggests that there is no safe level of lead for children.
"Unfortunately, our federal agencies have been slow to respond to that", Lowry said.
"The FDA is continuing to work with industry to further limit the amount of lead in foods to the greatest extent feasible, especially in foods frequently consumed by children", the agency wrote.
Baby foods contain more lead than regular foods.
In the report, the EDF recommends a long list of actions to the FDA and manufacturers in order to reduce the risk of lead in food.
In fact, too much lead has been linked to everything from hearing loss to behavioral and emotional disorders in kids, which is exactly why the report from the EDF is raising major concerns. Pesticides are chemicals used to thwart insects and are often considered toxic. It's also unclear why baby foods would have more lead than adult foods and why some products within a food category could test negative while others had relatively high amounts. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency this year has estimated that more than five percent of U.S. children (more than a million) get more than the FDA's recommended limit of lead from their diet. Parents should also have their children tested for lead, tell them to wash their hands often - especially before eating and sleeping, clean their toys and feed them healthy snacks such as yogurt, cheese slices and whole grain crackers, World Health Organization advises.
The reasons for this isn't clear, Neltner said.