'Smart Fats' Make for Fast-Learning Babies

By Hope, Jenny | Daily Mail (London), December 4, 2001 | Go to article overview

'Smart Fats' Make for Fast-Learning Babies


Hope, Jenny, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: JENNY HOPE

BABIES given formula milk containing 'smart fats' have better brainpower years later, say experts. They say that new research means that if babies can't be breast-fed, the next best option is to supplement feeds with essential fatty acids.

It is the first time researchers have been able to demonstrate that the type of formula milk given to babies in the first four months of life can affect their development five or six years later.

The Dundee University study showed that children given formula feed with the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs) found in breast milk had faster mental agility and were more efficient in understanding and solving problems compared with those given regular feeds.

Lead researcher Dr Peter Willatts said that there was mounting evidence that newborn babies who cannot be breastfed should routinely be given milk with LCPs, which are widely available but tend to be more expensive. He added: 'Our study looked at specific areas of brain function where you might expect to find a difference. For example, the IQ levels in both groups were similar, but when we looked at the speed of information processing, we saw clear differences between children who had LCPs and those given regular milk.

'The evidence has always been clearer for pre-term babies who benefit from LCPs, but this study supports giving them to all babies who need formula feed. It is important evidence showing long-term improvements in the speed of mental functioning and also in lowering blood pressure.' Dr Willatts told a conference in Birmingham of a study involving 150 children in Munich on the role of LCPs during pregnancy, lactation and early life. …

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