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EFSA confirms that omega-3 can benefit baby brains and eyes

December 18, 2009

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has affirmed that the omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), can benefit eye and cognitive development in babies.

The EFSA, keystone of European Union risk assessment regarding food and feed safety, stated that DHA has a structural and functional role in the fetal and newborn brain and retina (1). Maternal DHA intake can contribute to the early development of the eye and normal cognitive development in the fetus and the breast-fed infant.

While DHA can be synthesized in the human body from its precursor essential fatty acid ALA to a certain extent, the human fetus appears to be largely dependent on placental transfer of DHA from the mother derived either from her diet, from synthesis or from stores in adipose tissue. The Panel also noted that most DHA is provided to the breast-fed infant via breast milk in which the DHA concentration is dependent both on maternal dietary intake and maternal DHA stores, while the contribution by synthesis is low.

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