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The Formula Conundrum

The Right Stuff

When and Why to Try Soy continued...

Doctors recommend against using soy for infants recovering from diarrhea.

infant nutrition firm Mead Johnson announced a new baby formula is about to hit the market. The product features special ingredients: natural components found in breast milk that the company says have been FDA-recognized for use in baby formula. Mead Johnson is a WebMD sponsor.

The ingredients -- called DHA and ARA -- are fatty acids that are important to a baby's developing eyes and brain. Mead Johnson says its product is the first in the U.S. to include them.

Doctors say a mother's breast milk is still the best nutrition for your baby. This product is not meant to replace breast milk, but to come closer to the real thing for women who cannot breastfeed or prefer to feed their babies from a bottle.

DHA and ARA

Another brand new option is formula containing DHA (docosahexanoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid). These essential fatty acids, important for infant brain and eye development, occur naturally in breast milk. They've been added to European baby formulas for years, and now Mead Johnson's (a WebMD sponsor) FDA-approved version -- Enfamil LIPIL -- will hit store shelves here this month.

In a widely-cited recent study, researchers from Dallas' Retina Foundation of the Southwest, reported that babies fed infant formula enriched with DHA and ARA were cognitively advanced when compared with babies who received commercially available formulas without the fatty acids.

"Pediatricians who are educated about [the fatty acids] have been trying to get it into infant formula for the last decade," says California pediatrician Bill Sears, MD, who has written more than 30 books on infant development and parenting.

"The science is overwhelming that it is beneficial in terms of cognitive development. But even without the science it would be obvious because nature makes very few mistakes. And there is a large amount of [these acids] in breast milk."

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