Many prenatal nutritional supplements contain DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, which numerous products tout as being “brain nourishing” for infants. But just how true is this claim? A recent study published by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that DHA, which is mainly derived from fish and fish oil, doesn’t have a significant correlation nor causation with infant brain health. Although many experts agree that DHA certainly has no negative effect on infants, the Cochrane review determined that there is essentially no difference between a baby with high levels of DHA and one with low levels. For the most part, doctors recommend expecting mothers to skip the DHA supplements and just go straight for fish, as fish has many other nutrients and essential vitamins that can’t be obtained through DHA supplements alone.
Because all major formula brands that are sold in the USA today contain DHA to some extent, it begs the question of advertising ethics. Should companies be allowed to make claims that scientific research can’t prove just to get more sales? I personally find the whole issue to be troubling because adding DHA to baby formula increases the cost of production, and thus the retail cost of baby formula. Should companies that sell baby formula also offer non-DHA options that could potentially be cheaper but still offer the same benefits?
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