Study Shows Higher DHA Levels in Breast Milk Benefit Newborn Behavior

COLUMBIA, Md., Sept 22, 2005 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- A new study published in this month's Journal of Pediatric Psychiatry revealed a positive correlation between DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) levels in breast milk and newborn neurobehavioral function.

These findings support numerous clinical studies showing that DHA, a long chain omega-3 fatty acid, plays an important role in infant mental and visual development. DHA is now added to over 75% of U.S. infant formulas.

The study, conducted at Texas Tech University, analyzed the DHA content of breast milk collected from 20 breastfeeding mothers nine days after delivery. At the same time, their infants were tested for their neurobehavioral functioning using the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), a commonly used behavioral test. Analysis revealed a positive correlation between DHA levels in the mother's breast milk and their child's NBAS score.

"This study is significant because it correlates higher DHA in breast milk to higher cognitive function at a very young age," said study investigator Connye Kuratko, PhD, a registered dietitian formerly with Texas Tech University and now with Martek Biosciences. "Americans have among the lowest level of breast milk DHA in the world because of our diets, but pregnant and breastfeeding moms can safely ensure their baby is getting enough DHA simply by taking a DHA supplement. This study also underscores the importance of adding high levels of DHA to infant formula to ensure formulas provide enough of this important brain building nutrient."

Developing infants cannot efficiently make their own DHA and must obtain it through their mother's placenta during pregnancy and from breast milk after birth. The amount of DHA in a mother's diet determines the amount of DHA in her breast milk.

Dietary sources of DHA are limited primarily to fatty fish, making it difficult for most Americans to get enough DHA through diet alone. Moreover, pregnant and nursing women in the U.S have been cautioned by the U.S. FDA and EPA to limit their consumption of certain fish because of concerns about contamination. Today, American women have among the lowest levels of breast milk DHA in the world.

Studies show that DHA supplementation while breastfeeding effectively increases DHA levels in the mother's milk, as well as in the infant's blood. One recent study published in the July issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that infants of mothers who supplemented with DHA during the first four months of breastfeeding had better psychomotor skills at 2 1/2 years of age.

Dietary supplements with Martek DHA(TM) provide breastfeeding and pregnant women with an all-natural, vegetarian source of DHA free of oceanic pollutants and toxins that may be present in certain fish or fish oils. Martek DHA is the only source of DHA accepted for use in U.S. infant formulas.

Martek DHA is available for pregnant and nursing women in prenatal and nursing supplements, including Expecta Lipil from Mead Johnson and OptiNate from First Horizon Pharmaceutical, and Oh Mama! nutrition bars from Vincent Foods. It is available to consumers of all ages through Neuromins DHA dietary supplements and fortified foods including eggs and nutritional bars.

Martek Biosciences Corporation (MATK) develops, manufactures and sells products from microalgae. The Company's products include: (1) specialty, nutritional oils for infant formula that aid in the development of the eyes and central nervous system in newborns; (2) nutritional supplements and food ingredients that may play a beneficial role in promoting mental and cardiovascular health throughout life; and (3) powerful fluorescent markers for diagnostics, rapid miniaturized screening, and gene and protein detection.

This press release contains forward-looking statements regarding Martek's products. Such statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause future actual results to differ due to a variety of risk factors, including without limitation those factors set forth in Martek's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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