'Breast milk' in a can
MOTHERS who are unable to breastfeed their babies for one reason or another, can now be assured that their babies can have just about all the Lutein and other nutrients necessary for healthy growth.
Pfizer Nutrition recently announced the addition of Lutein to its brand of Gold Line infant formulas as, according to Dr Marcelo Quevedo, medical manager for Venezuela, Central America and the Caribbean for Pfizer Nutrition, Lutein is a natural pigment commonly present in breast milk which is a key complementary nutrient that protects the eye from harmful 'blue light' — the highest energy wavelength of visible light — and oxidative damages.
Lutein has been commercially developed by Pfizer and included in their range of "growing up milk".
"At birth children's eyes are still developing and continue to mature during the first few years," Dr Quevedo told the number of paediatricians and special guests who gathered for the presentation at the Terra Nova Hotel in St Andrew.
"During these early years, their eyes are especially sensitive to light, thus protecting them from this light becomes critically important," he said.
In the presentation entitled 'Small eyes, great vision', Dr Quevedo explained that blue light is the highest energy wavelength of visible light with approximately 70 per cent of this blue light reaching children's retina from zero months to 10 years old. If unfiltered, blue light can damage a child's sensitive eyes.
"Nutrition is important and critical during growth. The nutrients we provide them has to be in adequate quantity. Whatever we do can actually mark a person up to adult stage," he warned.
He said research indicates that Lutein, as the predominant macular pigment in the retina, is able to filter blue light and protect the eyes.
Dr Quevedo said children zero to two years are much more prone to blue light eye damage. This form of light he said is present in sunlight and if enough Lutein is not present in the eye it will cause blue light damage.
Lutein protects children against the light coming through the retina by trapping the blue light. The presenter noted that Lutein is even more effective to the eye than Vitamin C and E as it also deactivates sensitisers in the eyes.
"Lutein is concentrated in the cornea and retina in the eyes," Dr Quevedo said. "A child enhances visual ability as he/she matures so they need the correct amount of Lutein to promote good vision. Up to four years children need the right amount of Lutein and Vitamin A."
He, however, emphasised the importance of breast milk which has all the nutrients a baby needs.
"I cannot emphasise enough that babies must be breast fed breast milk exclusively up to six months of age. But if mother is unable to (breast feed), then we have produced a formula that has some of the features of breast milk," he said.
Silvio Gasbarrino, general manager for Venezuela, Central America and the Caribbean for Pfizer Nutrition, said their Gold Line infant formulas are fortified with many other nutrients similar to those of breast milk.
"Infant formula is fortified with carotenes in amounts similar to those in human milk," Gasbarrino said. "Our infant formulas is made with a whey-dominant protein similar to that of human milk. They are formulas with a physiologic fat blend specifically patterned after that of breast milk. The formula is fortified with arachidonic acid (AA) & docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from pure vegetable source. Our Infant formula is rich in alpha-lactalbumin — the predominant whey protein in human milk and now formulas are fortified with Lutein," he said.
Breast milk promotes protection against infections and is composed of multiple biofactors. The more breast milk an infant is fed, the more the Lutein levels will rise.