BABIES & NURSING

Brain Health Benefits of Breast-Feeding

By: Brightest Editors

September 28, 2016

Major infant brain growth occurs during pregnancy and during the first two years of life, which makes it important for parents to feed their babies proper nutrition between birth and two years old.

During this stage in their lives, infants have the greatest need for DHA, an omega-3 fat that is a major structural fat in the brain that accounts for up to 97 percent of the omega-3 fats in the brain. In addition to DHA, infants need arachidonic acid (ARA), an omega-6 fatty acid that is naturally found in breast milk. ARA plays a role in cognitive, visual and immune system development during infancy.

While ARA is plentiful in a Western diet, most women do not get enough DHA in their diets as the primary source of this omega-3 is fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, which are not staples in the Western diet.

Today, it is easy for women who are breast-feeding to consume more DHA through high-quality dietary supplements and prenatal vitamins with DHA combined – either in the same capsule or alongside the multiple vitamin supplement. Discuss the benefits of continuing to take your prenatal vitamins with your health care practitioner after you give birth to help support the brain health of your developing infant.

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