I breast fed my first child but gave organic formula to my 6 month old when I was about to return to work. Since then, I have had twins and managed to breast feed for two months before starting them on formula. My health visitor has confused me by saying organic formula doesn’t contain LCPs which are in other brands.
Can you please enlighten me on LCPs and if it’s a problem if they’re missing? I have read some things on the web which say you can not replicate the LCP’s of breast milk adequately. Is it OK to give my baby organic formula?Joanne D, 9 December 2008
LCPs are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is believed that LCPs such as arachandonic acid (AA) and decosahexanoic acid (DHA) help child development in that they positively affect, among other things, brain development, retinal development and nervous system development.
In adult humans most of these LCPs are synthesised from the breakdown of essential fatty acids and are thus present in a mother’s breast milk.
However, newborn babies aren’t able to produce quantities of LCPs so they benefit from ingesting LCPs in their milk or formula.
At the moment organic sources of LCPs are few so mass-produced organic formulas do not usually contain them.
However, formulas that are non-organic may contain LCPs as these formulations are not often affected by the status of LCP sources. In 2007, the Infant Formula and Follow-On Formula Regulations were even passed which state that while LCPs can be added to formulas, it is not a requirement that they be added.
This means that companies which produce organic formulas can choose which is more important to them: adding LCPs to the formula and surrendering the formula’s organic status or leaving out LCPs but retaining the formula’s organic status.
While it is likely that LCPs will become more common in organic formulas as greater sources of organic LCPs become available, both formula with added LCPs and organic formulas without LCPs remain safe for feeding to babies.
It is up to you to decide which you feel is more important for your family, an organic formula or a formula with added LCPs. But remember, by about four months of age babies are able to make some LCPs of their own from fats in their milk and/or formulas.
When they switch to solids, ingesting fatty acids will also help babies and toddlers with the production of LCPs. So in your case, with two month olds on formula, you are looking at about a two month window in which obtaining LCPs strictly from formula is a concern.
For answers to specific questions about formula, organic formula, LCPs and baby nutrition, contact your GP for further information.
Also do not hesitate to question your health visitor further and explain that you are confused by the information given to you.
To check on the status of LCPs in your preferred formula do not hesitate to contact the manufacturer.