DHA Omega-3 is Important for Babies Halifax NS
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DHA Omega-3 is Important for Babies
Q. Are omega-3 fatty acids good for my baby?
A. Yes. Many scientists believe that DHA is most important for babies when the brain and eyes are rapidly growing and developing in the last trimester of pregnancy through to the second year of life. During this time a good supply of fatty acids is needed to meet these needs for growth.
Babies get a supply of DHA from their mother when they are in the womb. After birth, they get DHA from breast milk, or other dietary sources. Babies are able to convert some DHA from other dietary sources of essential fatty acids. They may also benefit from supplemental DHA in their diet. Therefore, it is important to include an infant formula enriched with DHA.
Q. How can mothers help ensure their babies receive DHA?
A. With such a small window of time to help ensure a baby is receiving DHA, experts believe that it is important for pregnant and nursing women to consume sufficient DHA in their diets. Dietary DHA is passed on to the growing baby in the womb through mom's body and to nursing babies through breast milk.
Moms need to eat enough of the right types of fat while pregnant and nursing because it is important for a baby's normal brain and eye development. Foods naturally rich in DHA include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring.
Q. As DHA is so important, do all infant formulas have it?
A. No, not all infant formulas are enriched with DHA. And of those that do, not all contain DHA at what some experts agree is a beneficial level.
Mothers who are not breastfeeding their babies should choose a formula enriched with DHA. It is the position of the Dietitians of Canada and the American Dietetic Association that all non-breastfed infants should receive a DHA-enriched formula and the level of DHA should be at least 0.2 per cent of total fatty acids.
Research has shown that such formula enriched with DHA and ARA can support the normal development of the brain and eyes.
A recently published study found that four-year-olds who had been fed Enfamil A+ infant formula (enriched with DHA and ARA) exclusively for the first four months of life had similar IQ scores as children who were breastfed.
Women who are concerned about the amount of DHA their baby is receiving should talk to their doctor or dietitian to ensure they are making smart food choices. They can also visit: enfamil.ca
Dr. Peter Nieman, a paediatrician, has been practicing as a specialist with children for more than twenty years.