World Health Organization (WHO) among other health agencies recommends exclusive breast feeding during the first six months of infancy. However, Infant formula milk (IFM) has been increasingly used as a breast milk substitute due to maternal occupation, death and illness. The product has been associated with infant health complications and even deaths due to its contamination with aluminum (Al), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb) and nickel (Ni). Both the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and WHO have set maximum levels of concentration of these metals in IFM and the latter has set levels of provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI). Seven brands of IFM (for age 0-6 months) imported into the Kenyan market and shelved in stores in Nairobi County, were analysed for levels of Cd, Al, Pb and Ni. Except for Cd, all brands of IFM (0-6 months) contained the rest of the trace elements ranging as follows: Al (1.054±0.085 to 2.156±0.423 µg/g); Pb (0.018±0.001 to 0.059±0.002 µg/g) and Ni (0.022±0.001 to 0.032±0.001 µg/g). The estimated weekly intakes were below the PTWI thus indicating safety of the brands of IFM. Other than affirm presence of the elements Al, Pb and Ni in IFM though below the WHO set limits, the findings are a pointer to caution on consumption of IFM although this would be inevitable under unavoidable circumstances. The caution is justified since the consumption of IFM would pose health risk to infants due to exposure and bioaccumulation of the elements. Lead particularly was higher than the limits set by KEBS in most brands supporting this caution.
Key words: Infant formula milk, 0-6 moth infants, heavy metals, WHO, Kenya market.