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Formula companies use varying oils when manufacturing infant formula. Most often the choice of oil is based on cost not quality. Enfamil contains vegetable oil palm olein, soy, coconut, and high oleic sunflower oils and Similac contains high-oleic safflower oil, coconut oil, soy oil. Both are made from nonfat milk.

One area where formula manufactures are currently under great pressure is the inclusion of specific fatty acids in formula. Formula does now contain the “essential fatty acids” but is lacking in other important fatty acids. This is important because the adult body can synthesize the other important fatty acids but it is an inefficient and lengthy process and requires adequate amounts of Linoleic acid (an omega-6) and alpha-linoleic acid (an omega-3). "Non essential fatty acids" also need to be consumed by infants. They are simply not capable of manufacturing them like adults are. They don't have enough of the precursors and they just don't have the time. Their growth is too fast and too essential, especially of the brain and immune system.

The truth is infant formula now contains more important ingredients than it used to but less than it should and it will never be good enough. The formula industry is constantly trying to improve their recipe to better mimic human milk in order to be able to market their "formula" as superior to their competitors' "formula" but new components of human milk are constantly being discovered plus human milk varies from feed to feed, mother to mother, time of day, point of time in the actual feeding, length and frequency of the feeding gestational age of the infant, length of lactation, types of fats eaten by the mother, and exposure of mother and/or infant to infectious agents ... among other things; so no true standard exists, it is in constant flux.

The “essential” fatty acids are now included in US regulated infant formula but other important fatty acids are not. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) are currently are included in infant formula in many nations but not the US. Even if it is acknowledged that all these "non essential" fatty acids must be included in infant formula the worry continues about doses ... how much is enough, how much is too much, and another factor that is very difficult to compute - what is the proper ratio of the different fatty acids. Even if THEY decide on THE correct dose one must remember that formula has a shelf life and that it deteriorates over time. The industry compensates by overdosing many ingredients in order to be certain all ingredients will still meet minimal standards before the expiration date. In the case of infant formula fresher is not necessarily better because fresher means more and more is not always better.

Some of the research based problems caused by the lack of DHA and AA are decreased IQ scores, decreased Bayley Mental Developmental scores and decreased McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities as well as decreased visual acuity and weaker immune systems in artificially fed infants.

On May 17, 2001 the US FDA recognized fish fat additions marketed by Martek Biosciences Corporation as "GRAS" or generally recognized as safe. BUT, they are not in US infant formula as of this date and they are just the latest "new" "miracle" addition proposed to be put into "the other stuff".

Formula also does not have any cholesterol in it. This might sound good, we are used to thinking of cholesterol as “bad”, but infants need it. The covering of the nervous system with myelin is not complete when the infant is born and cholesterol is needed for this.

Who was it that said formula feeding is the largest uncontrolled human experiment in the history of man?

Play it safe, breastfeed your babies.

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