Reinforces Importance Of DHA/ARA in Infant Diet
OTTAWA, Oct. 2 /CNW/ -- A recently published study of 4 year olds who had
been fed Enfamil A+ infant formula exclusively for their first 17 weeks of
life has become the longest-term analysis of its kind to demonstrate
breastfed-equivalent visual and IQ outcomes among formula-fed infants. (1) The
study, conducted in the U.S., appeared in the journal Early Human Development
and was funded by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
"What this study means for parents is that we now have even longer-term
evidence that DHA and ARA supplementation at the levels in Enfamil A+ is
associated with visual acuity and brain development benefits similar to breast
milk," said Deborah Diersen-Schade, Ph.D., a research fellow at Mead Johnson
Nutritionals. Previously, brain and eye development outcomes similar to breast
milk had been followed in the same group of infants out to 18 months of age.
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid) are nutrients known
as "long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA)" that are present in
breast milk. DHA is an Omega 3 fatty acid and ARA is an Omega 6 fatty acid.
They are critical for normal development of the eyes, brain and nerves.
They begin accumulating in the infant's tissues during gestation, especially
during the third trimester. Recent evidence suggests that they continue to
support the normal development of visual acuity throughout the first full year
of life. (4)
Dr. Diersen-Schade emphasized that the new study addresses two other
issues that are important for parents and physicians -- those issues being DHA
and ARA levels and control group outcomes.
"The levels of DHA and ARA in Enfamil A+ were derived from our evaluation
of the levels of both nutrients in human milk worldwide," she said. "The
results that Dr. Birch and her colleagues obtained from this analysis as well
as results from previous studies are based on formulas with DHA at those
levels. Researchers who have conducted studies of infant formula that included
lower levels have not consistently demonstrated improved outcomes when
compared with formula not containing DHA and ARA." (5,6)
Regarding control group outcomes, Diersen-Schade explained that the
recent Birch study, which enrolled infants born from 1993 to 1995, also
included a control group of infants who received Enfamil(R) with Iron without
DHA and ARA supplementation.
"There were significant differences in visual acuity and verbal IQ scores
in the control group versus the breastfed group," she said. "That's important;
but what's meaningful is that the similar outcomes for Enfamil A+ compared to
breast milk were still observable at 4 years of age. Equally interesting, the
DHA and ARA group was fed Enfamil A+ for only four months; yet their results
were similar to infants who were breastfed on average for 10 months."
John Colombo, Ph.D., associate director for cognitive neuroscience and
professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, said that the recent
Birch study provides long-awaited data about the links between fatty acids in
the infant diet and measures of cognitive function, such as IQ. "Quite simply,
these data are the clearest evidence yet that show the beneficial effects of
LCPUFA on cognitive and intellectual development -- and that LCPUFA should be
part of the nutritional regimen in early life," he said. "These results
suggest that formulas supplemented with these levels of LCPUFA produce gains
in cognitive and intellectual function over formulas without these levels."
In childhood, IQ is considered relatively stable year-to-year offering
insights into IQ later in life, however, longer term impact of LCPUFA on
normal brain development past four years of age has yet to be measured by more
About Mead Johnson(R)
Mead Johnson Nutritionals is a world leader in nutrition, dedicated to
helping provide infants and children with the best start in life. Mead Johnson
Nutritionals is a Bristol-Myers Squibb company.
(*)Studies used Enfamil LIPIL(R), sold in Canada as Enfamil A+.
1. Birch EE, Garfield S, Hoffman DR, et al. Visual acuity and cognitive
outcomes at 4 years of age in a double-blind, randomized trial of
long-chain polyunsaturated fatty-acid supplemented infant formula.
Early Hum Dev, 2007, 83:279-284.
2. Birch EE, Garfield S, Hoffman DR, et al. A randomized controlled trial
of early dietary supply of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and
mental development in term infants. Dev Med Child Neurol, 2000;
3. Hoffman DR, Birch EE, Castaneda YS, et al. Maturation of visual and
mental function in 18-month old infants receiving dietary long-chain
polyunsaturated fatty acids. FASEB J, 2003; 17: A727-A728. Abstract
4. Morale SE, Hoffman DR, Castaneda YS, et al. Duration of long-chain
polyunsaturated fatty acids availability in the diet and visual
acuity. Early Hum Dev, 2005; 81:197-203.
5. Auestad N, Scott DT, Janowsky JS, et al. Visual, cognitive, and
language assessments at 39 months: a follow-up study of children fed
formulas containing long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids to 1 year
of age. Pediatrics, 2003; 112:e177-183
6. Scott DT, Janowsky JS, Carroll RR, et al. Formula supplementation with
long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids: are there developmental
benefits? Pediatrics, 1998; 102:e59. (Available at:
For further information:
For further information: Gail Wood, +1-812-429-5703, firstname.lastname@example.org,
of Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Corp Web Site: http://www.bms.com/