Breast-fed children are significantly more
likely to do well in measures of stereoscopic vision than
are those who received formula during infancy, according
to UK researchers.
"Our study," Dr. Atul Singhal of the Institute of Child
Health, London stated, "adds to the growing evidence that
breast-feeding has long-term benefits for visual development."
A higher concentration of the fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic
acid) in breast milk than in formula has been proposed
as one explanation for this effect, Singhal and colleagues
note in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and
this has been a rationale for adding DHA to infant formula.
To further investigate, the team studied 78 previously
breast-fed and 184 previously formula-fed children ages
4 to 6 years who were followed prospectively from birth.
In the first 6 months of life, the formula-fed group was
randomly assigned to formula with or without supplementation
with DHA or arachidonic acid.
When they were tested, breast-fed children were significantly
more likely to have greater stereo-acuity than did children
in either formula-fed group. There were no significant
differences between children who did or did not receive
formula containing DHA.
The researchers conclude that "these findings support
the hypothesis that breast-feeding benefits long-term
Singhal added, "We don't know the mechanisms involved,
but this benefit does not seem to be explained by the
presence of certain omega 3 fatty acids -- DHA -- in human
SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January