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DHA U.S. infant formula manufacturers currently offer formulas containing docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). Formulas containing DHA and ARA have been shown to provide visual and mental development similar to that of the breastfed infant. The decision to supplement formulas with these nutritional long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) was made following years of research studying the clinical effects of both DHA and ARA in infants. The use of LCPUFAs in infant formulas has been reviewed and supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Food Safety Authority, the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the Agence Francaise De Securite Sanitaire Des Aliments, the American Dietetic Association and the Dietitians of Canada, the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, the World Association of Perinatal Medicine and Child Health Foundation, the Commission of European Communities and the National Academy of Sciences.

DHA + ARA are considered to be "building blocks" for the development of brain and eye tissue. Research has demonstrated that DHA and ARA, both present in human milk, are physiologically important in prenatal and postnatal life during the period of rapid brain and eye development and throughout life as well. DHA and ARA have been shown to rapidly accumulate in the brain during the last trimester prenatally and the first two years postnatally, and pre-clinical studies have also demonstrated their importance in visual and neural systems.

IFD The IFC supports breastfeeding and the position of the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading health organizations that breastfeeding is ideal, and offers specific child and maternal benefits. However, for those mothers who cannot or choose not to breastfeed, infant formula is recommended. Years of product development and careful clinical research have resulted in commercially available infant formulas that provide the appropriate levels of protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals for a baby to sustain a rapid rate of growth and development without stressing the infant's delicate and developing organ systems. With the addition of DHA and ARA to infant formulas, the industry continues its commitment to provide the best nutrition for infants whose mothers cannot or choose not to breastfeed.

 

Notice to DHA + ARA ingredients use in infant formula milk powder

 

LC-PUFA After reviewing the recent literature and current recommendations regarding LC-PUFA for term infant nutrition during the first months of life, a 2008 international expert working group on LC-PUFAs in perinatal practice led by B. Koletzko concluded that "the available evidence strongly supports benefits of adding DHA and ARA to infant formula. The panel stated that the addition of DHA and ARA to infant formula "appears appropriate." Furthermore, the authors stated that, "a large database exists concerning not only the safety, but also the efficacy, of infant formula containing both ARA and DHA These facts, together, support the addition of both ARA and DHA when LC-PUFAs are added to formula. Parents and health professionals can be assured infant formula is safe and nutritious.

EFSA The scientific opinion of the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA) regarding Dietary Reference Values (DRVs) for fats, including saturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, and cholesterol was published. The opinion set an Adequate Intake (AI) level for DHA for infants and young children, and stated "small amounts of DHA may be needed for optimal growth and development of infants and children," including 20-50 mg/day for infants 0-6 months of age.

Agence Francaise De Securite Sanitaire Des Aliments (AFSSA) AFSSA published a Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for Fatty Acids, including DRIs for infants 0-6 months and infants and young children 6-36 months. AFSSA also recognized DHA as an essential fatty acid for its role in structure and function of the brain and eye. The ADA and the DC have recommended the inclusion of DHA and ARA in infant formula and have highlighted the importance of DHA and ARA to infant health. In their position statement on dietary fatty acids, the ADA/DC note no adverse effects of feeding marketed infant formula containing both ARA and DHA in amounts found in human milk are known. Because of possible benefits and lack of adverse effects, it is recommended that all infants who are not breastfed be fed a formula containing both ARA and DHA through at least the first year of life.

Commission of the European Communities (EC). The EC states that DHA and ARA are considered safe for use as an optional ingredient for infant formulas. ATLAS Infant Formula: FAO, WHO and EC (EFSA) research has demonstrated that DHA and ARA, both present in human milk, are physiologically important in prenatal and postnatal life during the period of rapid brain and eye development and throughout life as well. DHA and ARA have been shown to rapidly accumulate in the brain and eye development during the last trimester prenatally and the first two years. Soluble vitamins: C, A, D, E, B1, B2, B6, B12 and: FOS (Fructooligosaccaride) and GOS (Galactooligsaccaride).

BACKGROUND: DHA is particularly required for the development of the cerebral cortex, the region of the brain responsible for language development and information processing, and plays a vital function in developing visual sharpness (acuity). ARA is an important precursor for modulators/mediators of a variety of essential biological processes (e.g., the inflammatory response, regulation of blood pressure, regulation of sleep/wake cycle). DHA and ARA are synthesized in the body from the precursor essential fatty acids, a-linolenic acid ( ALA ) and linoleic acid (LA), respectively, that are also present in human milk and infant formula.

Evidence that blood levels of DHA and ARA are typically higher in breastfed infants than in infants fed formulas not containing these LCPUFAs provided a basis for investigating the addition of DHA and ARA to infant formulas. Studies suggest that premature infants may benefit the most from direct consumption of DHA and ARA. Throughout the third trimester, a mother passes DHA and ARA to the baby through the placenta. Postnatally, these nutrients are passed through human milk. In the event that a baby is born prematurely, placental transport of DHA and ARA is interrupted, thereby reducing the baby's total accumulation of ARA and DHA prior to birth. Addition of the GRAS sources of DHA and ARA to preterm formula provides these important nutrients safely. Studies show that formulas containing added DHA and ARA are safe and support visual and cognitive development. 

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