When I was a kid, we played with bags of jagged glass….

By Kristie Turck •  Published 04/04/08 •  4 min read

I really do have more uplifting posts in the form of reviews, but while doing the aforementioned research over the last week, I came across even more depressing information and this time it’s regarding infant formula.

Now before I even start this post, I want to emphasize that this post is NOT something to spark a debate between breastfeeding vs. formula feeding and tout which is best. Because this is a very intense subject. Any comments that are of that nature or of malicious intent, will be deleted. We here at Safe Mama support a family’s choice and at the end of the day, the finger here, is really being pointed at the makers of formula.

Over the past few years, if your child was formula fed, you probably noticed the labels touting the addition of fatty acids, known as DHA/RHA. It’s been known for some time, that these essential Omega acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6, respectively) have an array of health benefits, including cardiovascular, reproductive, brain health, the list is endless. For babies, DHA/RHA is needed to promote eye and brain development. Babies who are breastfed get this from their mother, babies who are formula fed, get this from formula.

Disturbingly, new research has shown that the Omegas that have been added to formula, are being derived from a fungus and added to formula, which has caused unfavorable reactions to many babies ingesting these particular brands of formula. Additionally, it’s suspect that these formula companies in question, have derived marketing campaigns that encourage new parents to switch to formula instead of breastfeeding.

Well, gee, there’s a novel concept. Now, I will admit, when I first came across this bit of information, I found it on a site for organic formula. So I was a bit skeptical. To me, it sounded like exactly what the last line of my last paragraph was describing. Anyone who has a baby on formula can tell you that formula is a racket. It’s insanely marked up, because they know if you’re in a situation where you have to use formula, you’re going to pay the price. The kid’s gotta eat. But because millions of babies are ingesting the stuff, it definitely warranted more research. So after more research, I came across a report put together by The Cornucopia Institute. Here’s a bit from the article:

What is troublesome, however, is that some infant for-
mulas contain DHA- and ARA-containing oils that are novel
foods—extracted from laboratory-grown fermented algae and
fungus and processed utilizing a toxic chemical, hexane. These
algal and fungal oils provide DHA and ARA in forms that are
structurally different from those naturally found in human
milk. These manufactured oils are known as DHASCO and
ARASCO, which stand for docosahexaenoic acid single cell oil
and arachidonic acid single cell oil.
These oils are produced by Martek Biosciences Corpora-
tion and appear to be added to infant formula primarily as a
marketing tool designed to convince parents that formula is
now “as close as ever to breast milk.” Substantiating this the-
sis is a Martek investment promotion from 1996, which reads
as follows: “Even if [the DHA/ARA blend] has no benefit, we
think it would be widely incorporated into formulas, as a market-
ing tool and to allow companies to promote their formula as ‘closest
to human milk
[emphasis added].”

Now, there’s a lot more to this article that could also be considered propaganda. But in the effort of keeping this unbiased, as the purpose of this blog is to give you the information to make informed decisions on what’s best for your family, I encourage you to read the full article and decide for yourself. Remember, any hateful comments will be deleted.

Edited to add: If you’re using Horizons brand whole milk with the DHA additive for your toddler, that particular brand is also using the same formula of DHA manufactured by Martek.

Your best bet if you want to supplement your child with Omegas is plain old cod liver oil, or flax seed oil.  If you have a local health food store, they can point you in the right direction.