Baby's diet could prevent high blood pressure in adulthood

October 9, 2001 in Heart Health, Nutrition for Children and Teenagers

Baby's diet could prevent high blood pressure in adulthood

According to a study from EFA Sciences in Norwood, Massachusetts giving infants and children supplements of a certain type of fatty acid could prevent them from developing high blood pressure, in adulthood. Breast milk is rich in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA). DHA is also contained in fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel.

Infants accumulate these fatty acids in their brains during the last 3 months in the womb and the first few months outside it. The brain and spinal cord require a sufficient amount of these nutrients for optimal development and function.

Infants who are breast-fed for more than 12 months have a very low incidence of hypertension. The scientists believe that this protective effect is due to the polyunsaturated fatty acids contained in breast milk.

When levels of DHA are reduced in animal studies, the animals develop high blood pressure as adults. There is also evidence that when these fatty acids are given to adults who have mild to moderate hypertension, their blood pressure returns to normal.

Because breast-feeding may not supply all the polyunsaturated fatty acids needed to prevent hypertension, the researchers speculate that supplementing a child

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