Making Formula More Like Mother's Milk

A major argument for nursing babies rather than feeding them by bottle is that mother's milk contains substances that are not found in infant formula. One is a fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. Some pediatricians believe that DHA is important in the rapid development of the brain in the first few months of life. Yet you can't find it in most formulas, because there are no good natural sources of the substance.

That may soon change because of lowly algae. At Martek Corp. in Columbia, Md., scientists have found a strain of microscopic plants that make DHA. And by growing the algae in huge fermentation vats, the company can churn out large quantities of the substance, reports President Richard J. Radmer. The biosciences company is now negotiating with formula makers to supply them with the DHA.

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