Two new studies seem to indicate that babies nourished with healthy fatty acids, whether coming from breast milk or the bottle, turn out smarter. The said studies, which were conducted in the United Kingdom and Spain found that higher levels of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as EPA, DHA, and ALA, are linked to greater mental development in younger as well as older kids.
A mother’s breast milk have these fatty acids occurring naturally while most infant formulas nowadays have been fortified with healthy fatty acids as a result of previous research indicating that they play a significant role in the baby’s mental development. It seems that both sources of healthy fatty acids work effectively in making kids become smarter, according to the two studies.
Researchers in the UK conducted a study that involved 107 formerly preterm infants who were about an average of 10 years old at the time of the said study. Between the time of birth up until they reached 9 months of age, the infants were divided into groups that received infant formula supplemented with fatty acids or with a placebo. Those who were nourished with breast milk were also taken into consideration.
The test subjects were also given extensive testing measuring their IQ, memory, attention as well as other cognitive functions. The children who were known to receive formula that was supplemented with fatty acids showed benefits in several cognitive measures. In addition, the researchers found out that girls, but not the boys, showed some significant advantages in literacy, including spelling and reading.
Meanwhile, in the study that was conducted by Spanish researchers, higher amounts of breast feeding among all milk that was consumed during a child’s first 14 months of life can be associated to significantly higher metal test scores as compared to children who were breast fed less. Maternal education, social class and IQ only seem to partially explain the association, leading researchers to conclude that the long-chain fatty acid levels may have been the source of the benefit.
Despite the closely linked results indicated by both studies, further research on the subjects is still needed before a factual conclusion can be reached. The results can also be attributed to other factors and not just from a single nutritional ingredient in milk. And the fact that the said studies only involved a small number of test subjects highlight the need for a more extensive study and research.