A new infant formaula designed specifically for pre-term infants has been given the go-ahead by the US Food & Drug Administration. Enfamil Premature LIPIL is an extension of the Enfamil LIPIL brand produced by Mead Johnson Nutritionals.
Like the standard Enfamil LIPIL brand, Enfamil Premature LIPIL contains DHA and ARA, two nutrients which are known to help the mental and visual development of infants. "Many scientists have long believed that premature infants can benefit developmentally from receiving DHA and ARA nutrients that have never been added to pre-term infant formula in the US," said J. Roberto Moran, vice president and medical director for Mead Johnson Nutritionals.
"A premature infant is developing very rapidly in the first several months of life, and receiving these nutrients at the appropriate levels and ratio may help promote growth and development. We are committed to the science behind LIPIL [the blend of DHA and ARA used in the formulas], and believe strongly in the clinically demonstrated benefits for both term infants and pre-term infants."
Moran cited two studies which he claimed had shown statistically significant improvements in growth and development in premature infants after being fed Enfamil Premature LIPIL. One study was carried out by Thomas Clandinin from the University of Alberta in Canada, an expert in the effects of DHA and ARA on premature infants, while the other was led by Sheila Innis of the University of British Columbia, also in Canada.
"We compared premature infants who consumed Enfamil formulas with LIPIL, including Enfamil Premature LIPIL, with premature infants consuming the same formulas without the two nutrients, and we saw measurable differences," said Clandinin. "The infants getting the supplemented formula had higher scores on mental and motor development tests and they gained in weight and length more rapidly."
Clandinin's team found that very-low-birth-weight premature infants fed Enfamil formulas with LIPIL, including Enfamil Premature LIPIL, caught up in weight to a reference group of breastfed term infants by approximately 18 months of age and caught up in length by nine months corrected age. Infants fed the same formula without LIPIL grew more slowly. In addition, the infants receiving Enfamil formulas with LIPIL scored higher on tests of mental and motor development at 18 months compared to the infants fed the control formulas.
Innis' study, meanwhile, also found positive effects on weight gain in infants fed Enfamil Premature LIPIL. This study compared very-low-birth-weight infants who were given Enfamil Premature LIPIL for at least 28 days during hospitalisation to very-low-birth-weight infants given the same premature formula with no DHA and ARA. The infants who consumed Enfamil Premature LIPIL gained weight significantly faster during hospitalisation than the infants who consumed the same formula without LIPIL, and had weights and weight-to-length ratios comparable to those of term breast-fed infants when measured at two and four months corrected age.
Enfamil Premature LIPIL will be available later this month.