Omega Fatty Acids DHA and AA Take Center Stage at Asian Conference on Pediatric Nutrition

2007-10-19 01:52 742

BEIJING, Oct. 19 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- Research being presented this week at the Third Asian Congress on Pediatric Nutrition in Beijing, China, provides strong support for fatty acid intake during pregnancy, infancy and early childhood. Of particular focus are the omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a major structural fat in the brain and retina of the eye, and the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA), which is abundant in the brain and needed for growth and immunity.

Berthold Koletzko, M.D., Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital, University of Munich, will present new Perinatal Lipid Nutrition Group (PeriLip) recommendations stating that pregnant and nursing women should consume at least 200mg of DHA every day. This expert committee found that women with higher DHA omega-3 intakes had healthier pregnancies, including higher birth weights and fewer premature births. DHA intake was also linked with improved infant outcomes, such as enhanced brain and eye development.

Alexandre Lapillonne, M.D., Ph.D., Saint Vincent de Paul hospital and Paris Descartes University, Paris, will present research that found a positive correlation between infant visual development and DHA/AA intake. The research supports dietary DHA intake for breastfeeding women and the inclusion of DHA/AA in infant formula. The research supports levels of DHA in infant formula of at least 0.2 % of total fatty acids and AA inclusion at levels at least equal to added DHA.

"There is limited public awareness of the role of omegas in infant development," says Professor Lapillonne. "But, as the presentations at this conference illustrate, there is quality research available. Health professionals should educate women in their care on optimal DHA and AA intake during pregnancy, nursing and infancy, and mothers should ensure they gain the benefits of these fatty acids for themselves and their infants."

Alan Ryan, PhD, Martek Biosciences, will present research on the effect of DHA supplementation in healthy four-year-old children that found that higher blood levels of DHA were associated with higher scores on a cognitive test in these children, suggesting that higher levels of DHA should be included in the diets of children.

DHA omega-3 can be found in fatty fish. Various expert bodies recommend that women and children should limit their intake of fatty fish. DHA can also be found in other dietary sources, including foods and supplements fortified with algal DHA. DHA is also added to many infant formulas. AA is abundant in the adult diet and is added to many infant formulas as well.

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Source: Martek Biosciences Corporation