Enrich Your Infants Life

Infant formula is good for brain and heart development

(RxWiki News) New born babies are fragile little bundles of joy. Parents want nothing more than to make sure they grow into healthy individuals and researchers might be able to help.

Researchers found that formulas that have been enhanced with long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) are better for brain and heart development.

"Check the quality of baby formula."

Lead author, John Colombo, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and director of Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies at the University of Kansas, found that formulas fortified with LCPUFAs docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) had increased brain development and lower heart rates.

DHA is a fatty acid that is needed for brain and eye development. Normally, babies would get this from their mothers before birth and up to age two. Other sources of DHA include fish. ARA is similar in that it is also found in breast milk, but it can also be found in commercial formulas.

The study included 122 full term infants who were fed one of four different formulas until they were twelve months old. Three of the formulas had different levels of DHA and ARA while one formula had neither.

The researchers measured the participant’s heart rates and brain development at four, six and nine months of age. Brain development was determined by measuring visual attentiveness while infants looked at pictures of adult human faces.

Even the formula with 0.3 percent LCPUFA level, the lowest amount, had benefits. This just adds to the mounting evidence that these nutritional compounds have positive effects on brain and behavioral development for infants, Colombo says.

This clinical trial will be published in the October 2011 issue of Pediatric Research.

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Review Date: 
September 20, 2011