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Infant formula

Related Terms

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Background

  • According to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), infant formula is defined as food that serves a special dietary purpose as a complete or partial substitute of human breast milk. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines infants to be no more than 12 months of age.
  • Replacements for breast milk began centuries ago. According to secondary sources, mothers who could not nurse either made food for the infants, known as dry feeding, or used wet nurses who breastfed the infants for the mothers. Scientific investigation of breast milk alternatives did not begin until the late 19th Century. In 1915, processed milk was developed with a fat content to mimic human breast milk, and modified evaporated milk formulas soon became widely accepted and used for many decades. Infant formulas have evolved from early compositions. After years of research and development they have been formulated to contain the proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals necessary for infant growth and development.
  • Many of the formulas are fortified with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). According to secondary sources, DHA and ARA are found in higher levels in breastfed infants than those who are not breastfed, which is the reason there has been an increased interest in adding these acids to infant formula. The body can make these fatty acids from sources found in plant and marine oils; DHA and ARA can also be obtained directly from the diet. DHA and ARA are components of the brain and are important for developing cognitive skills.
  • While there is conflicting evidence concerning the relative value of artificial feeding, including using infant formula, it is inferior to breastfeeding for both full-term and premature infants, according to the International Formula Council (IFC). Artificial feeding is associated with more illness and death in infants when compared to breastfed infants. This may be due to the immune protective nature of breast milk as well as the ability of breast milk to satisfy the complete nutrient needs of infants.
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Technique

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Theory/Evidence

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Safety

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.