Do The Ingredients In Baby Formula Affect Infant Health?


What goes into your body has a tremendous effect on your health. For infants, this is especially true considering their fragile immune systems and brand-new digestive systems. Infant formula, breast milk, and baby food all have one thing in common; they are intended to give children well-rounded nutrition that will help them thrive and grow up strong.

Most parents regardless of what they choose to feed their child assume that anything formulated specifically for children is automatically healthy, but that is not always the case. In some cases, food and even infant formula will have loads of additives, excess sugars and even GMO’s that can have an adverse effect on the health of your child later down the line.

Ingredients in Infant Formula

Pick up any container of traditional baby formula and read the listed ingredients. Chances are you will come across items such as corn maltodextrin; whey protein concentrate, sucrose and more. Do you know what any of those actually are? How does that make you feel when you think about feeding them to your child?

While it is true that the majority of things included in baby formula are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, that doesn’t mean they are derived from the best source. All of these are vital for infant health, the fact that they are inscrutable often leads discerning parents to choose healthy European infant formula for their child instead. Not only are the ingredients cleaner, but they are also easier to identify and thus easier to understand. Every parent wants to know that they are giving their child the best, and European infant formula gives them the opportunity to do just that.

Are The Ingredients in Formula Really Important for Infant Health?

There have been massive amounts of research in the field of infant formula and the ingredients’ used to formulate them. One of the topmost experts in infant formula, Bridget Young, who is also a clinical researcher with a Ph.D. has studied the long-term effects of infant formula ingredients in children.

Vitamins In Infant Formula

In the US, baby formula is regulated by the FDA. In the EU, infant formula is regulated by the European Commission. They state that there must be a certain number of vitamins and nutrients in any baby formula available for sale. The majority of formulas have added iron while low-iron formulas can be purchased from specialty lines. Unless an infant is suffering from a condition that causes their body to retain higher levels of iron, there is no reason to use it. Iron and other vitamins included in baby formula help boost brain growth, support nerve development and help the bones to grow strong. There are some other smaller differences between the two countries as far as added nutrients. The main difference between the two is that The FDA calls for 0.15 – 3.30 mg of iron in baby formula and The European Commission calls for 0.3 – 1.3 mg of iron for babies up to 6 months and 0.6 – 1.7 mg of iron for babies up to a year old.

Fatty Acids In Infant Formula

Most baby formulas and infant formulas contain added essential fatty acids. The two most common are arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Both DHA and ARA are in breastmilk which makes it more important for them to be included in infant formula as well. These fatty acids help to improve mental development in children as they grow and studies have also shown that infants who have formula fortified with DHA and ARA have better eyesight. US-based baby formula sometimes includes one, or both but they are not mandatory. Infant formula from Europe, on the other hand, is legally required to contain DHA in every formulation. Brain development and mental development play a large role in the ability to learn later in life. In this case, it is clear that adding or not adding an ingredient will have a measurable long term effect on a child’s health.

Protein In Infant Formula

Protein is a very important part of an infant's diet. For babies, that usually comes in the form of their main food- milk. Breastfed infants get a perfect blend of protein in their milk directly from their mother. For infants who drink formula, their protein comes from cow, goat, or soy milk. For infants, these proteins are broken down to make them easier for baby stomachs to digest. Of all the proteins, goats milk is the closest to breast milk and also the gentlest on new digestive systems. For babies that have allergies or those who have digestive troubles, there are hydrolyzed formulas to ease their digestion. Both the US and the EU pay special attention to proteins in infant formula. European formulas are all created from ingredients that come from dynamic farming which makes the proteins cleaner and more robust. This, in turn, helps the child to grow while also making the milk easier to digest.

Potentially Harmful Ingredients In Infant Formula

There are a lot of reasons why parents prefer European infant formulas over those produced in the US. Mainly those reasons have to do with harmful ingredients that may be present in local baby formula. One of those harmful ingredients that have been found is melamine, which is a chemical that is also used in the production of plastic.

BPA or Bisphenol-A is another ingredient found in plastic. It has been proven to cause harm to the brain and the reproductive system. Most ready-to-use formulas contain higher concentrations than powder baby formula, but its presence at all is a serious cause for concern.

15 different brands of baby formula in the US were found to contain perchlorate, which is also used in rocket fuel. Although the EPA stated the levels were within a safe margin, the CDC noted concern.

Good Feeding Practices For Infants

There is a wealth of benefits to breastfeeding, while not everyone can commit to full-time feedings, those who feed their infant's formula are also able to give them the best start in life. Infant formulas that are made from wholesome ingredients and free from harmful additives are the best option. European infant formula such as those offered by HiPP, Holle, Kabrita, and Nanny Care are just some healthy examples for parents to choose from. Mommy Formula is always here to support you when you need it the most.

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