FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:
World-leading lipid scientists explain here why the European Food Standards Agency has made a VERY serious mistake in its recent recommendation that there is no need for the long-chain omega-6 fat, arachidonic acid (AA) to be added to infant formula - even when this contains the long-chain omega-3 DHA.
As they emphasise, the EFSA recommendation is in fact
- unsafe, ungrounded in most of the evidence, and risking lifelong disability.
The consequences for formula-fed infants could be very dangerous, should any manufacturers of infant formula now choose to leave out omega-6 AA (which few people have heard of) while continuing to add omega-3 DHA.
They also point out that the EFSA recommendation is based not on the scientific evidence actually available - but on a very narrow review, which focused only on randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.
Such trials have focused almost exclusively on the effects of omega-3 DHA (essential for brain development and function), NOT on outcomes for which omega-6 AA is absolutely essential. These include cardiovascular development and immunity (among many, many others - as substances made from AA - and DHA - help regulate almost every aspect of brain and body function).
AA and DHA are essential for healthy body and brain development. Before birth, these vital long-chain polyusaturated fatty acids are preferentially transferred by the placenta from mother to fetus.
And after birth, both
AA and DHA are present in breastmilk.
Adding only DHA to infant formula could drive down levels of AA, owing to the natural competition between omega-3 and omega-6. Humans need both
these essential fats - in the right balance - at any age. But adequate supplies are particularly crucial in early life, as nutrition during this critical period has lifelong consequences for brain and body health.
It can only be hoped that EFSA will admit their error rapidly - and withdraw or amend this misguided recommendation.