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Originally published November 26 2008

Study Examines Importance of DHA for Brain Development in Children

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Supplementation with the essential omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can increased blood levels of the nutrient, which prior studies have linked to improve cognitive performance in young children, according to an industry-funded study conducted by researchers from Pedia Research LLC and published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.

Previous research has suggested that DHA plays in a central role in infant brain and vision development, and may also improve young children's cognitive function. It has also been linked with cognition-enhancing cancer-suppressing properties later in life.

"DHA is a building block of the brain and is important for its development and function throughout life," said Edward B. Nelson, director of Martek BioSciences.

In the current study, 175 healthy, four-year-old children at 11 different locations were given either a 400 mg supplement of Martek's life's DHA or placebo once per day for four months. Over the course of this period, blood levels of DHA were measured and the children were given four separate tests designed to measure infant mental acuity: the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, the Leiter-R Test of Sustained Attention, the Day-Night Stroop Test and Conners' Kiddie Continuous Performance Test. All tests were administered by trained psychologists who had at least five years of pediatric experience.

The researchers found no significant difference in test scores between children given the DHA supplement and those given a placebo.

Martek's life's DHA has helped secure its control over a major segment of the DHA infant formula supplement market in both North America and Europe. A full 95 percent of infant formula sold in the United States is now supplemented with DHA, after a number of study suggested that the higher DHA content of breast milk may be behind many of its health benefits.

Although DHA is found in high concentrations in fish oil, the DHA in the Martek product is derived from algae - the same source from which fish initially acquire it.

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