DHA and ARA Promotes Eye and Brain Development
EVANSVILLE, Ind., June 26 -- The results of a new study show that Enfamil(R) LIPIL(R) with Iron which is supplemented with the fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid) helps to significantly improve the visual development of infants compared to non-supplemented formula. The study was conducted by researchers at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest in Dallas, Texas and is published in the June 2003 issue of The Journal of Pediatrics. This new study adds to the existing body of research that supports the developmental benefits of DHA and ARA.
Researchers studied babies who were breastfed from birth to four to six months and then randomly weaned -- either to the DHA and ARA supplemented formula, Enfamil LIPIL with Iron, or to a formula without DHA and ARA. The babies fed the supplemented formula had improved visual acuity at one year of age, compared to the babies fed the non-supplemented formula after weaning.
"This study demonstrates the continued need for DHA and ARA in the infant diet beyond four months of age to optimize visual development during the first year of life," said lead researcher Dennis R. Hoffman, Ph.D. of the Retina Foundation. "If a woman stops breastfeeding at four months of age, which is quite common, then the supply of DHA and ARA dramatically drops unless a formula with the appropriate level of these nutrients added is chosen."
Infant formulas are the most highly regulated food in the U.S. and have undergone rigorous testing and scientific scrutiny. To date, more than 100 safety-related studies have been conducted on the sources of DHA and ARA used in infant formulas.
Besides visual development, research on DHA and ARA supplemented formula has also demonstrated improved brain development when compared to formula without DHA and ARA.
"I have completed a number of clinical trials of both DHA and ARA and our studies, as well as most other clinical trials, suggest that formulas with these nutrients offer babies a significant advantage," said Susan Carlson, Ph.D., professor of nutrition, University of Kansas Medical Center. "We've seen higher early visual acuity and accelerated development assessed by measuring infant attention. The improvements appear to be even greater in low birth weight babies who did not receive DHA from their mothers during the last trimester of pregnancy. In the clinical trials as a whole, formulas with DHA and ARA are tolerated as well as formulas without DHA and ARA."
DHA and ARA are provided to babies by the mother before birth and through breast milk afterwards, but these nutrients have never before been included in infant formula in the United States until Enfamil LIPIL with Iron received clearance from the FDA nearly two years ago. Several term infant formulas on store shelves now include DHA and ARA, but only Enfamil LIPIL with Iron has been clinically proven to enhance mental and visual development in full-term infants.
"I give my daughter breast milk when I can, but it's not always possible," said Ellie Krieger, MS, RD, a New York City-based nutritionist and new mom. "After carefully looking at the research, I chose a DHA and ARA supplemented formula with the highest levels in infant formula because it provides fatty acids which are shown to be beneficial to my baby's development. Personally, I believe that supplementing with formula has enabled me to breastfeed longer, while maintaining my busy schedule," added Krieger.
More than one million babies worldwide have been fed formulas with the same DHA and ARA levels found in Enfamil LIPIL. Additionally, global experts like the World Health Organization specify their use for infants who are not breastfed.
Enfamil LIPIL is available nationwide in a wide variety of infant formulas to meet babies' unique feeding needs. Consumers can visit enfamil.com or call 1-800-BABY-123 for assistance in locating Enfamil LIPIL at a store in their area.
Mead Johnson Nutritionals(R) is a world leader in nutrition, recognized for developing and marketing high quality products that meet the nutritional needs of children and adults of all ages. Mead Johnson Nutritionals is a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.
Source: Hoffman DR, Birch EE, Castaneda YS, Fawcett SL, Wheaton DH, Birch DG, Uauy R. Visual function in breast-fed term infants weaned to formula with or without long-chain polyunsaturates at 4 to 6 months: A randomized clinical trial. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2003; 142: 669-677.