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If You Have to Use Baby Formula You Need to Know These Fat Fact

June 18, 2003 | 20,435 views
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Baby formula manufacturers, including Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Wyeth, are promoting new baby formulas supplemented with fatty acids as a way to make babies smarter and have better eyesight. However, the additives may not live up to the claims, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees the composition of formula, said results of studies to show the health benefits of fatty acid additives to formula were mixed.

Baby formula supplemented with fatty acids could cost parents an additional $200 a year for formula. The manufacturers explain the added cost by pointing out the fact that only one company makes the forms of DHA and ARA used in infant formula. The American Academy of Pediatrics has not endorsed the new formulas because of their potential "unknown adverse effects".

According to parents and pediatricians, marketing of formula with fatty acids DHA and ARA is more aggressive than usual. Magazine ads and product labels promote the benefits of the fatty acids, and many hospitals are receiving free samples to give to parents after their babies are born. Formula manufacturers are also targeting pediatricians, whom they regard as essential in reaching parents.

The FDA has added the new additives in formulas to its list of "generally regarded as safe" ingredients. While such additives have been used in formulas sold abroad since 1996, they haven’t been used in the past in the United States.

Dozens of clinical trials have been completed by Ross Products, the Abbott subsidiary that produces the Isomil and Similac brands, and Mead Johnson Nutritionals, the Bristol-Myers subsidiary that makes Enfamil, which are the largest companies in the formula business. Results showed short-term benefits among babies who were fed formula supplemented with the fatty acids.

Further, a consumer education group reviewed about 24 studies on the topic and found that about one-third of the studies showed no difference in babies who took the DHA-supplemented formulas compared with those who did not. Two-thirds of the studies showed a benefit.

However, according to some critics, there is a significant shortage of long-term, independent studies.

The two fatty acids being added to the baby formulas have long been associated with health benefits. For instance, DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is found in fish oil and is thought to help reduce the risk of heart attacks. ARA, arachidonic acid, is found in meat, eggs and milk and is believed to improve brain development.

Reportedly, all the formula manufacturers that have added products with the fatty acids have had increases in overall sales. The companies reach parents through hospitals and hope that they will stick with their brand after trying it for their babies’ first days of life.

In 2001, nearly 70 percent of mothers breast-fed their children at the start. However, by the time a baby reaches six months of age, the percentage of breast-feeding mothers is cut in half as many parents begin using formula around this time.

NewYork Times June 1, 2003

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

The fact that infant formula supplemented with DHA is now available in the United States and much of the world is probably a very good thing. At least infants who are not breastfed will now be able to get this essential nutrient.

However, this supplemented formula is no panacea. There are some issues that remain.

For example, there is the issue of the possible oxidation of the DHA during processing of the formula.

In addition, when DHA is given, it should be balanced with its cousin omega-3 fatty acid, EPA, but this is not being done. This is because rather than adding fatty acids from fish oil, the source of Martek's DHA is from algae. Although DHA is essential, if it is given out of balance, without EPA, as in the form being suggested by the FDA, it is potentially problematic.

In addition, the fact that these supplemented formulas are being marketed as "the next best thing to breastmilk" is potentially dangerous, as it may sway mothers who are considering breastfeeding their infants away from the practice.

The fact of the matter is that it is only one tiny step closer to breast milk than conventional formula and is still vastly inferior to the only perfect food for babies--mother'smilk. DHA is only one of many hundreds of substances that are in breast milk. Many of the other substances are not in ANY kind of formula.

Breast milk contains antibodies, immunoglobulins, whiteblood cells, lactoferrin, lysosomes, bifidus factor (helps friendly bacteria grow in the intestines to ensure acid environment), vitamin B12 binding protein, and many, many other substances.

And of course if a mother follows my dietary recommendations, she will have the best chance of being optimally healthy and her breast milk will be even more nutritious.

So remember that if you want the very best by far for your babies, breastfeed them if at all possible.  If you are going to use commercial formulas, however, then perhaps these new DHA-supplemented ones are the best bet, as DHA is an essential part of brain development.

However, an even better option would be to try the Infant Formula Fortification Protocol developed by Dr. Patricia Kane and myself. In addition, the Weston A. Price Foundation has its own infant feeding recommendations, which are another option.

Krill oil will provide DHA and EPA in more balanced and useful forms than DHA that is abstracted from algae. There is some concern that when DHA is taken alone it will cause an imbalance in brain biochemistry.

That is why whole food sources are far superior and generally far less expensive than the formulas with the additives.

Similarly with arachidonic acid, whole food sources would be better.  Raw grass-fed organic butter or egg yolks added to the infant’s diet would be the perfect complement to the fish/cod liver oil.

It can be difficult to find a farmer who is willing to sell raw dairy products to you.  Sales of raw milk are legal in 28 out of 50 U.S. states.  If you live in an area where sales of raw dairy are illegal, you do have some options.  Many have gotten around this challenge by developing a legal formal arrangement. In this arrangement, known as a cow share program, people actually purchase part ownership of the cow and therefore are exempted from the sales restriction, since they partially own the animal.

Sally Fallon has compiled a Website that provides further information about this important food source, including where you can purchase raw dairy products.

RelatedArticles:

Which Infant Formulas Contain Hidden Toxic Chemicals?

Is DHAThe Secret Of Breast Milk's Success?

DHA Improves Visionin Preterm Infants

FDA Clears Way for FishFat Addition to Baby Formula

Fish Oil ImprovesDHA Status Of Malnourished Infants


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