Monday, October 17, 2011

Value of Fortified Infant Formulas

At the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition (NCE) in Boston which is being held in 14-18 October 2011, this question was asked:

 Infant Formulas: Are We Making Smarter, Healthier Children?.
Frank Greer, MD, FAAP: ‘There are no studies showing long-term benefits for supplemental DHA/ARA in human infants.'

The claims are generally legal, said Frank Greer, MD, FAAP, University of Wisconsin, but none are supported by robust data..."The trend today is toward boutique formulas with a single brand name covering a family of different formulas with different additives aimed at different market niches," Dr Greer said during "Infant Formulas: Risks and Benefits — Are We Really Making Smarter and Healthier Children?" "All of these formulas are safe and all of them at a basic level will support growth. However, breastfeeding is still the best choice for smarter, healthier babies."..."I don't know of any real advantage to giving growing up formula to a child between 13 and 36 months," Dr Greer said....The same criticism applies to other substances added to infant formula, he said. All have a reasonable rationale, such as adding DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid) to grow smarter babies with better vision. Both substances are important to prenatal and postnatal brain development, and both are found in breast milk but not in cow's milk.

Nevertheless, strong data is also lacking on the benefits of supplementing formula with these nutrients..."There are no studies showing long-term benefits for supplemental DHA/ARA in human infants," Dr Greer said. "The most convincing short-term benefit was seen in visual acuity at one year, which results in a one-line improvement in vision on the standard Snellen eye chart. There are no known advantages beyond one year of age."

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