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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Maternal Milk - More Essential Than You Think

  • Author(s): Ambartsumyan, Gayane
  • et al.

Breastfeeding, a natural next step of the pregnancy, comes with many obvious advantages to the infant. Benefits of breastfeeding known to most include its ability to provide unique quality of nutrients along with immunity, certain enzymes and vitamins to the baby. Over the past few decades, particular attention has been paid to the long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LC PUFA) composition of breast milk, especially arachidonic acid (AA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These LC PUFAs, found abundantly in the brain, the retina, and other nervous tissue, are not found in any of the current baby formulas on the market. Being essential part of the infant nutrition, this poses a problem for those infants who are formula-fed and are thus deprived of these essential fatty acids. The benefits of these fatty acids have been found to be numerous including but not limited to possible visual acuity in infancy, higher scores on mental development tests at infancy, higher IQ scores, increased growth and increased insulin sensitivity. The benefits are striking, yet the process of supplementation of current formulas with these essential fatty acids is simple. In fact, further research is currently being done to investigate certain side effects of supplementation before the FDA can make a final decision.

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