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Baby Development- World Breakthrough in treating Premature Infants

Posted Jan 15 2009 5:01pm
By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kids Nutrition Specialist Just a few weeks ago, a long term study was launched to determine if breast milk can reduce the health risks association with premature births and very low birth weight babies. Babies born prematurely often experience both short and long term health problems including developmental disorders. In a breakthrough discovery, a new study found that a common supplement may help reduce those risks. The essential fatty acid, omega 3, has been gaining a great deal of notoriety in the realm of expecting mothers and infants due omega 3s critical role in fetal and newborn brain development. The 6 year study by the Womens and Childrens Health Research Institute along with Professor Bob Gibson from the University of Adelaide revealed that high doses of the fatty acid given to pre-term babies through either a mothers breast milk or infant formula can assist with healthy brain development. Omega 3 fatty acid, or DHA, is the major lipid in the brain and researchers found that prior to 33 weeks gestation, fetuses are lacking sufficient amounts which could possibly lead to impaired brain development in the future. This necessary component for fetal brain function is the main reason why expecting and breastfeeding mothers have been encouraged to intake ample amounts of omega 3. To combat the deficit, researchers administered about 1000mg per day in increasing doses to nursing mothers of pre-term infants in supplemental form. Babies of non-lactating mothers were given the same amounts through infant formula. When compared with the infants in the study on low DHA diets, 50% fewer babies given high doses of omega 3 had delayed mental development. Girls fared much better with DHA than the boys in the study and researchers conclude it could be due to the fact that boys have a higher metabolic rate but that much more research in that area is needed.
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