Breast feeding may affect a child's intelligence as well as bringing other benefits. But it is not always possible for women to breastfeed. As a result, researchers are looking to develop a bottle formula that more closely resembles mother's milk.
Scientists at the University of Dundee in Scotland may be close. They recently compared babies fed for four months a formula supplemented with long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs) to those fed traditional formula milk.
Breast milk naturally contains LCPs; the amount depends on how much LCP-rich food the mother eats.
Six years later, the children who were fed the supplemented formula showed greater efficiency in understanding and solving problems and in making decisions in a picture-matching exercise.
The study was based in Munich, Germany and involved 150 children from Dundee and Birmingham, U.K.; Leuven, Belgium and Milan, Italy.
Preliminary data also suggests that LCP supplementation during infancy may be linked to lower blood pressure in later childhood, and even later into adulthood.
Breast milk naturally contains LCPs, although the quantities can vary depending on the amount of oily fish, nuts and green leaf vegetables are being eaten by the mother, as these are rich sources.