St. Louis Public Radio News
6:03 am
Mon February 16, 2009

Device removes aluminum from infant formula

St. Louis, MO – Scientists at the University of Missouri - St. Louis and the University of Kentucky have developed a device to remove aluminum from premature infant formulas.

Dr. Wesley Harris helped design the device. He says aluminum is a common contaminant found in the earth's crust, and the chemicals in formulas bind easily to it.

"In the particular case of these solutions, some of the components which the infant needs, the chemicals that the infant needs, have the unfortunate side attribute that they also bind avidly to aluminum."

Dr. Chris Spilling also worked on the device. He says formulas used to feed premature babies intravenously often contain too much aluminum. Spilling says premature babies aren't developed enough to process the aluminum, which can cause skeletal and brain damage.

"Any contaminant is going right into the blood stream, and the kidneys aren't functioning properly so you're not able to excrete the aluminum in the way a healthy adult would."

Spilling says the device could be available for use in hospitals by 2010.