DHA in infant formula: experimenting with children’s health?

Justmeans.com, Jan 1, 2011

Martek Biosciences has an interesting array of products, but perhaps the most controversial offering from Martek, and the likely reason for its handsome price, is the infant formula additives DHA and ARA. These substances exist in human breast milk, so the logic of adding them to infant formula may seem sound. Anyone who has ever had to purchase infant formula can attest to the massive cost, and thus massive market potential, of being involved in this health sector. But critics are concerned that since it’s not ethically possibly to study food additives in infants, we have no idea what the long-term impact of such potent supplementation will be.

Further conflating the potential for controversy, Martek invested significant resources to get the FDA’s seal of approval for the infant formula additives. Infant health groups put up loud protest, but in the end the FDA ruled in Martek’s favor. Many opponents still contend that introducing DHA enhanced infant formula onto the open market is essentially a massive uncontrolled experiment on the youngest of the young.

The results of such post- market surveillance is often written in gruesome headlines after unfixable harms have already occurred.

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