DHA (an Omega-3 Fat)
Many moms don’t know that an Omega 3 fat called DHA found in breast milk and in some infant formulas plays a key role in their babies’ brain and eye development.
Many scientists believe that DHA (docosahexaenonic acid) is most important for babies when the brain and eyes are rapidly developing—from the last trimester of pregnancy through to the second year of life. During this crucial phase, babies need a good supply of fats for growth. They get DHA from their mother in the womb and, after birth, breastfed babies get DHA from their mother’s breast milk.
An Important Nutrient
“Research shows that DHA is needed in high levels in the brain and eyes to support normal development,” says Alberta pediatrician Dr. Peter Nieman. “Mothers need to be aware of the importance of including DHA in their diet during pregnancy and, following birth, ensuring their infants are getting beneficial amounts of this important nutrient through breast milk. If a woman is not breast feeding her baby, she should choose an infant formula that contains DHA.”
Experts recommend that pregnant and nursing women get DHA by eating DHA-rich foods, including fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring. If you’re not breastfeeding, experts recommend you should use an infant formula with DHA (DHA should account for at least 0.2% of total fatty acids in the formula).
If you’re concerned about the amount of DHA your baby is getting, talk to your baby’s doctor or dietitian.