By Ben Flannery, MD
You may be hearing about manganese levels in Northfield drinking water, and might have health concerns for infants. This is relevant only for formula-fed babies, and there’s a simple solution.
Manganese naturally occurs in drinking water and can be found in rocks and soil. It’s a naturally occurring element that our bodies need.
Minnesota Department of Health set new guidance levels for manganese in drinking water for infants 12 months and younger: For infants who drink tap water or formula made with tap water, the level is 100 micrograms per liter or less. MDH says infants one and younger may develop learning and behavior problems if they consistently drink water with higher levels of manganese. (For children older than 12 months and adults, the level is 300 micrograms per liter or less.)
Northfield city officials expect that water samples taken on June 20 will show manganese is slightly over 100 micrograms per liter – around 126-127 micrograms per liter.
At this level (126-127 ug/L), tap water is safe to mix with formula if the water is filtered – by a carbon filter such as Brita, a refrigerator filter, or a water softener. Manganese is very simple to remove from water. Any filtration system installed by water professionals will filter it all out. If you prefer not to mix formula with water from your fridge filter because it’s chilled, a Brita filter is the way to go.
If you don’t have any filtration, buy bottled water to make formula. Any bottled water is fine; nursery water is a good option. Babies under one year old don’t need cups of water anyway – maybe a sippy cup while eating – so paying attention to formula is sufficient.
Wells have their own levels of minerals; if you have well water, using carbon filtering is a good idea.
There’s no worry for kids over one (or adults) with manganese at this level – and highly unlikely risk of learning or behavior problems for infants.
If you’re worried about any developmental issues with your child for any reason, at any age, it’s always a good idea to see your pediatrician.
Ben Flannery, MD is a pediatrician with Northfield Hospital + Clinics. To make an appointment in the Northfield Clinic, call 646-1494.