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Spinning Suspect Ingredients in Baby Formula

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Appetite For a Change page, and our Safeguard Organic Standards page.
    "That same day that I gave her the first bottle of formula, she had terrible diarrhea, she had horrible spit-up, she had gas, she was crying with pain. ... Then our pharmacy accidentally ordered formula without DHA/ARA. She had it for four days and her symptoms improved almost overnight."

Isabel Salas reported to the non-profit Cornucopia Institute (Cornucopia) the difficulties she faced when her infant daughter reacted badly to a set of additives present in most baby formulas: DHA and ARA oils. Containers of formula containing these additives say things like, "Our formula is proven in clinical studies to enhance mental development" and "as close as ever to breast milk."

But Salas isn't the only mother who has faced these problems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recorded at least 98 self-reported incidents (PDF) of adverse reactions in infants that could be confidently linked to intolerance to these additives, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Cornucopia in 2008. The majority of these reactions involve severe gastrointestinal distress, prolonged periods of vomiting and painful bloating.

Many of these parents only found out that there was a problem with their infant's formula when they accidentally tried a brand without DHA and ARA additives and noticed obvious improvements. Cornucopia has called the many reports to the FDA of infants' adverse reactions to these controversial additives "only the tip of the iceberg" because "most parents remain unaware that Martek's DHA and ARA oils may be the cause of their infant's problems."