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Date of last update: 9/9/2017.

Forum Name: Pediatric Topics

Question: Formula - AHA / DHA necessary?

 newbrunswickgirl - Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:22 pm

I am starting to supplement my previously exclusively breastfed seven month old. I'm quite certain this will be the beginning of a quick weaning process. Where I live, you can buy formula with AHA and DHA or without. There is a significant cost difference. Is the expense worth it to buy the formula with the AHA and DHA? Also, will the answer be different once he is eating more solids ( right now he is only tasting cereals, mild vegetables, fruits). Thank you
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:04 pm

User avatar Hello Newbrunswickgirl,

This is a very good question. There are lots of new studies suggesting that infants that get higher levels of AHA/DHA have significantly improved levels of brain functioning/cognition as well as several other beneficial effects. This effect has been demonstrated well enough that now the recommendation even includes having breast feeding mothers take a supplement of these fatty chains to help increase their levels in breastmilk and while the baby is developing before birth.

Does this mean they are essential? Probably not, since children had the formulas for a long time without these supplements and did well. While the data is pretty convincing, it certainly is not rock solid. Given the choice, I generally recommend using the supplements but would not object to someone not wanting them.

When your son begins to eat more foods, having him eat some foods rich in these fatty acids will be just as beneficial. Probably the biggest factor is that he eat a healthy balanced diet.

So, I hope I didn't leave this too unsettled, but I did purposely not directly answer it because I think it ultimately comes down to parental choice.

Best wishes.
 newbrunswickgirl - Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:26 pm

Thank you, Dr. Lowe. The more research I do, the more the answer becomes clear.
 Alexandra C, RN - Mon Mar 17, 2008 12:35 pm

Hello newbrunswickgirl,

I wanted to add that many store-brands now offer formula with DHA and AHA added, and these cost significantly less than name-brand formulas. All infant formula must meet the same same nutrient standards set by the FDA. If you want to use a formula that contains DHA and AHA and save money, this might help. Good luck to you.

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