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DHA and Your Baby's Health Regina SK

Learn what the Omega-3 fatty acid DHA can do for your baby and how to give it to him/her.

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DHA and Your Baby's Health

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(NC)-A large percentage of mothers do not know that an omega-3 fatty acid found in breast milk and in some infant formulas plays a key role in their babies' brain and eye development. The survey, conducted by Ipsos-Reid, found that less than one third of mothers know about docosahexaenoic acid, simply known as DHA, and that it is an important omega-3 fatty acid for a baby's developing brain and eyes.

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 are needed for growth. Babies get a supply of DHA from their mother in the womb and, after birth, breastfed babies get DHA from their mother's breast milk.

"Research shows that DHA is important for the normal development of the brain and eyes" says Dr. Peter Nieman, pediatrician. "Mothers need to be aware of the benefits of including DHA in their diet during pregnancy and, following birth, helping to ensure their infants are getting this important nutrient through breast milk. If a woman is not breast feeding her baby, she should choose an infant formula that contains DHA."

With such a small window of time to ensure babies receive DHA, experts believe that it is important for pregnant and nursing women to consume sufficient DHA in their diets. Eating enough of the right types of fat while pregnant and nursing 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.

For those babies who are not breastfed, there are infant formulas available that contain DHA. Many experts agree that moms 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.

"With DHA at 0.32 per cent of total fatty acids [equivalent to 11.5 mg of DHA per 100 mL of Enfamil A+ infant formula], Enfamil A+ is a good alternative for infants who are not breastfed," says Dr. Nieman. "The DHA and ARA in Enfamil A+ are clinically proven to result in IQ scores at four years of age similar to those of breastfed infants and is also proven to support normal brain and eye development."

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 nutrition choices. More information on DHA in infant formula can be found online at enfamil.ca.

Dr. Peter Nieman, a paediatrician, has been practicing as a specialist

with children for more than twenty years.

Credit: www.newscanada.com