Those “Essential” Omega Fatty Acids

In 1986 research was published that provided evidence that Omega-3 fatty acids were essential for brain and eye development. In the US the 1990s were designated “The Decade of the Brain”, by President G H W Bush and substantial government funding was made available to researchers. The aim may have been to better understand the human brain as a means to improve computers, but the research performed was very valuable in developing an understanding of the benefits to babies that accrue from their receiving an adequate intake of LCPUFA essential fatty acids.

In 2000 clinical studies began to be published in key, peer-reviewed medical journals revealing the significant benefits in mental development index (MDI) scores in babies who were fed baby formula that contained adequate amounts of the LCPUFAs Omega-3 DHA and Omega-6 ARA. MDI scoring is similar to IQ scoring, and the average score is 100. Babies who had been fed formula with LCPUFA during their first seventeen weeks achieved, on average, at eighteen months of age MDI scores seven points higher than babies fed the same formula without the LCPUFA content (the “control” formula). The fact that 26 percent of these babies scored 115 (seventeen points higher than the average for the babies on the control formula) prompted Scientific American magazine to take the unprecedented step of highlighting the study as a “Formula for Intelligence?” The researchers commented: “These data support a long-term cognitive advantage of infant DHA supply during the first 4 months of life.