Do Babies Need Healthy Fat for Intelligence?
The intelligence level of a child may be determined by the nutrients that he or she ingests early in life, according to a study published in the journal, Child Development.1
In the three-part study, scientists determined that baby formula containing essential fatty acids may improve a child’s ability to solve certain problems.
The results show that 229 infants from Texas were randomly given either regular baby formula or baby formula containing two fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA).
In addition, the infants were later tested for certain problem solving abilities.
“The results … here suggest that LCPUFA [long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid] supplementation of infant formula beginning shortly after birth, or after 6 weeks of breastfeeding, leads to superior performance on a means-end problem solving task at 9 months of age,” the scientists say in their study.
For the problem solving task, children were required to remove a cloth cover and pick up a baby rattle, according to James R. Drover and his fellow scientists.
Drover and four other colleagues attribute better test scores to the children who consumed the supplemented formula than the children who consumed only regular baby formula.
Fatty acid supplementation may indeed have helped the children. The omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, appears to be particularly important. In one study, Lloyd A. Horrocks and Young K. Yeo say: “Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is essential for the growth and functional development of the brain in infants.”2
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- James R. Drover et al, “Three Randomized Controlled Trials of Early Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation on Means-End Problem Solving in Nine-Month Olds,” Child Development.
- Lloyd A. Horrocks and Young K. Yeo, “Health Benefits of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA),” Pharmacological Research.