Fortifying infant formula with essential fatty acids DHA and ARA strengthens infant immune health.

A study conducted by the Retina Foundation of the Southwest (June 2010 issue of The Journal of Pediatrics) monitored infants fed a routine cow's milk formula supplemented with DHA and ARA (Enfamil LIPIL) or the same formula with no DHA or ARA (now discontinued Enfamil with Iron) to infants within the first week of life through 12 months in randomized, double-blind studies.

The infants' immune health was assessed by looking at a variety of clinical outcomes related to respiratory and skin health based on a review of infants' medical charts. Improvements were demonstrated in most of the outcomes assessed in the study.

This new study adds to the growing body of research showing that early feedingsupplemented with expert-recommended levels of DHA and ARA supports long-term beneficial outcomes for health and development. For example, another study by Birch, et. al., published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February 2010 - titled The DIAMOND (DHA Intake and Measurement of Neural Development) Study - reported that infants fed a routine infant formula supplemented with DHA at 0.32% of total fatty acids had improved visual acuity through 12 months of age compared to infants fed the same formulation without supplementation .

Another study published in Child Development by Drover, et. al., in October 2009 compared problem-solving ability among 9-month-old infants. Infants were assessed with a 2-step problem-solving task as a measure of mental development, and those who were fed the supplemented formula had more successful task completions and higher goal-directed behaviors than infants fed the unsupplemented formula.

Mead Johnson pioneered the inclusion of DHA and ARA in infant formula in the United States, and millions of babies worldwide have been fed similarly enhanced formulas. Global experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the American Dietetic Association/Dieticians of Canada, specify their use for infants who are not breastfed. As recently as March 2010, the Agence Francaise De Securite Sanitaire Des Aliments (AFSSA) recognized DHA as an essential fatty acid and set a dietary recommended intake level of 0.32% of total fatty acids by infants 6 months to 1 year of age. This is the same level found in Enfamil infant formulas. In its published opinion, AFSSA also recognized DHA as a major constituent for the brain and visual structure and function.


Courtesy of Medical News Today

First Published in May 2010

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