Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lab-made DHA and ARA: Unsafe for Infants!

A shocking report has been released on the adverse health effects of fatty acids, DHA and ARA, found in infant formulas. On January 25, the Cornucopia Institute, a U.S.-based corporate watchdog group, presented their findings on DHA and ARA, which are commonly added to formula.

The report is based on a Freedom of Information Act request that the Cornucopia Institute filed with the Food and Drug Administration, the result of which was the uncovering of 98 reports filed by parents and physicians detailing incidences when babies had reacted adversly to formula containing DHA/ARA. The incidences range from cases of vomitting and diarrhea, that stopped when babies switched to non-DHA/ARA formula, to babies being treated in ICUs for severe dehydration and seizures.

This study shows that efforts to imitate human breast milk in the laboratory by fortifying infant formula with fermented algae and fungus are a marketing gimmick that puts infants at risk.

Study findings include:
1. Serious risks in premarket safety tests ignored
2. Infants seriously sickened by what some medical professionals describe as the "diarrhea
3. Virulent and long-term diarrhea recognized as grave health risk to infants
4. Industry accused of misleading marketing/advertising—discourag ing breast-feeding
5. Novel oils extracted with a toxic solvent that is banned in organic production, hexane
6. Benefit to cognitive and visual development of infants is mixed at best

Formula manufacturers claim that DHA and ARA are essetential to eye and brain development. The FDA has never been convinced of the safety of DHA/ARA additives, according to the report. The FDA also noted that some studies have reported unexpected deaths among infants who had been fed with DHA/ARA formula. Despite its reservations, inexplicably the FDA did not withhold approval for the additives. (I'm sure they're questioning themselves now!)

Cornucopia and the
National Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy also announced that they are calling for a warning label on all formula containing DHA/ARA. The groups are petitioning the FDA for a label alerting parents of the range of possible complications from DHA/ARA-supplemented formula.

While some infants and toddlers do not react to formula in this fashion- some do face illness and life-threatening situations as a result. These side effects may not be the majority, but really does that matter? The fact is- toxic substances are being used in formula for infants and that is NOT OK! For me personally, this is not a matter of formula vs breastmilk. This is about ethics and overall safety of babies.

I will be watching for ways to take action and should I come across anything I will be sure to post them.


Renee said...

Great work Mama.

Mama Kate said...

Thanks for stopping by Renee! Check out my latest post regarding the USDA's recent ban of DHA and ARA in organic formula.

Take care.