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Fatty acids make babies smarter

September 29, 2011

THIS IS NO FISH TALE. A new study came out last week making it official. Fatty acids are beneficial for babies.

Tue, Sep 20, 2011 (HealthDay News via BabyCenter) — Whether they’re fed by bottle or breast, babies seem to turn out smarter when nourished with healthy fatty acids found in breast milk and some formulas, two new studies indicate.

Especially girl babies.

During extensive testing measuring IQ, memory, attention and other cognitive functions, the children who exclusively received supplemented formula showed benefits in several cognitive measures. Also, girls — but not boys — demonstrated significant advantages in literacy, including reading and spelling. The apparent gender effects concur with growing research describing differences in boys and girls in the brain’s vulnerability to outside forces, including nutrition, the study authors said.

My mom, who’s a bit of a former-hippie-turned-yuppy-health nut, has been taking a fish oil supplement for years to ward off heart problems. Doctors also say it’s a mood stabilizer for those prone to depression. Here’s the link for babies: because the same fatty acids found in fish oil also appear in breast milk (and fortified formulas) babies who breastfeed or drink fortified formula are benefiting too. I took a fish oil supplement during both of my pregnancies and continued through my breastfeeding days. Both girls seem to be thriving and if fatty acids had something to do with it, all the better.

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