Tuesday, June 1, 2010

DHA and ARA: Should be the equivilant of four-letter words

If you keep up on the latest news regarding infant and child nutrition standards then you're probably familar with the fact that synthetic  DHA and ARA, common addatives in infant formula, have been widely debated for a number of years-- questioning their safety and overall effectiveness.  Recently the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) passed a ban on DHA and ARA in all organic foods, including organic infant formula. 

I wrote a post back in January '08 on the subject of safety, or the lack-there-of, in regard to synthetic DHA and ARA... check it out. Unfortunately the facts are still true today, over two years later.

I'm not here to reinvent the wheel... so, be sure to head over to babygooroo.com to read an excellent article on the new ban.  It's a very good read!  Some of the highlights include...
The process will include a 60-day period for public comment, and could take a year or longer [for the ban to be fully implemented].
Re: the marketing of infant formula...
If they included synthetic versions of these oils (manufactured under the names DHASCO and ARASCO) in infant formula, the companies could assuage parents’ concerns about their baby’s development while suggesting that formula is “as close as ever to breast milk.” As noted in a Martek investment promotion from 1996 (and quoted in the Cornucopia Institute’s report), “Even if [the DHA/ARA blend] has no benefit, we think it would be widely incorporated into formulas, as a marketing tool and to allow companies to promote their formula as ‘closest to human milk.’”
In fact, leading formula manufacturer Mead Johnson admits on its Enfamil website that numerous scientific studies have shown little or no benefit to infant development, lending support to the theory that inclusion of these oils is just a marketing gimmick—much like the inclusion of prebiotics.

Unfortunately, it seems to be an effective gimmick. The percentage of people who agreed that “infant formula and breastfeeding are equally good ways of feeding an infant” doubled from 12 percent to 24 percent between 2003 and 2004, when the formula companies began advertising their supplemented formulas.

Natural DHA and ARA are totally safe... want to provide them au natural to your baby?  Breastfeed.

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