LCPs is short for ‘long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids' which are a type of unsaturated fats that play many useful roles in the body. Two of the most common LCPs are the Omega 3 LCP known as DHA, and the Omega 6 LCP known as AA.
AA and DHA are important components of the retina of the eye and of the brain and they are therefore of major importance during the visual and neurological development of babies in the last 3 months of pregnancy and first few months after birth.
During pregnancy, your baby receives LCPs through your placenta. Both DHA and AA are present in breastmilk. That is why pregnant and breastfeeding mums need to make sure they take plenty of LCP rich food.
Babies whose LCP intake is plentiful during pregnancy and first few months of life through breastmilk or an infant milk with added LCPs, show better visual development and speech, thinking and movement skills when older. Also, the blood pressure tends to be lower in childhood which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.
Research shows that mums with insufficient intake of LCPs during pregnancy run a higher risk of having babies with smaller heads which may be associated with slower development and consequently poorer academic achievement.
LCPs are found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, tuna). Fish is a good source of both AA and DHA and meat and eggs are particularly rich in AA.
If you are not sure your intake of LCPs is sufficient in pregnancy, consult with your healthcare professional whether to take any supplements, there are many available in the market.
AA and DHA can be made from other fats in the diet by babies, but the ability to do so is very limited in the first few months of life, so a dietary source of AA and DHA is desirable to ensure optimum nutrition and development in bottle fed babies in the first 4-6 months of life. Hence, it is very important that you choose an infant milk for your baby which contains LCPs.
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