Enfamil® Infant has DHA shown to foster learning ability through age 5.

In an independent clinical study, children fed Enfamil Infant during the first 12 months of life exhibited:

  • Significantly accelerated development in a measure of executive function which includes the ability to pay attention, set goals and stay on task.*
  • 16% higher scores on an early measure of IQ.*

*The study compared infants fed Enfamil Infant and those fed a similar (now discontinued) formula without DHA. Improvements shown within 5 years of age.

This study used age-appropriate cognitive tests that measure developmental skills, such as the ability to focus, as well as tests that measure comprehension and verbal ability which are strong indicators of IQ.

Here’s the full story behind the study.

What was the purpose of the study?

It’s been clinically proven that in the early months of life, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, like DHA and ARA, support brain development. The objective of this study was to find out whether these nutrients continue to support brain development past the 18-month mark and into later years of a child’s life.


What are DHA and ARA and why do we study them?

What are DHA and ARA and why do we study them?

DHA and ARA are two types of fatty acids that babies get from their mothers during pregnancy. It has been clinically proven that DHA and ARA support brain development in the early months of life. We study them to find out whether these nutrients continue to support brain development in later years.


Who was studied?

  • Children fed formula that had DHA and ARA during the first 12 months of life.
  • Children fed (now discontinued) formula during the first 12 months of life without DHA and ARA.

How long were these children studied?

Starting at 18 months through 6 years of age.

How often was their progress tracked?

Every 6 months, from 18 to 48 months, and then every 12 months from 48 to 72 months.

What tests did the study use to measure cognitive abilities?

Enfamil and Learning Ability

The study used age-appropriate standardized and specific cognitive  tests including the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), widely considered to be a predictor of school readiness, and the Directional Change Card Sort (DCCS).

Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (pictured) is strongly related to reading comprehension and is a good indicator of general verbal ability and IQ. As its name suggests, children are shown a booklet with sets of four pictures and are verbally directed to point to a picture in the booklet. This method tests “receptive language” - the vocabulary a child understands by listening.

The Directional Change Card Sort Test is widely used to measure developmental skills including the ability to pay attention, self-control and the mental flexibility to move from different tasks or perspectives easily. The test works by directing children to sort cards using a single rule (shape, size, color), and then directing the children to sort the cards again using a different rule.

What did the study show by age 5:

Children fed formula that had DHA and ARA during the first 12 months of life exhibited:

  • Significantly accelerated development in a measure of executive function which includes the ability to pay attention, set goals, stay on task and maintain self-control.*
  • 16% higher scores on an early measure of IQ.* This includes improved scores on pre-school readiness test.*

*vs discontinued Enfamil without DHA. Improvement shown through 5 years of age.

What could this mean for your child?

Dr. Colombo, Ph.D.

Quite a bit, according to study scientist John Colombo, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of Kansas.

"If I were talking to a parent, the thing I would emphasize most about the study is that this first-year feeding had long-term benefits that lasted almost to school age."
Dr. Colombo, Ph.D.

What about the future of the study?

The results suggest that the study of nutrition and cognitive development should be continued through early childhood. The investigators are continuing to study these children beyond the age of 6.

Mead Johnson Nutrition

The first phase of this study looked at these same children as full-term, healthy babies from birth to 12 months. They were similarly divided into 2 groups: babies fed formula supplemented with DHA and ARA and babies fed non-supplemented formula. In a 2011 study published in Pediatric Research, the DHA and ARA-supplemented babies exhibited improved sustained attention, compared to those fed formula without DHA or ARA during the first 12 months of life.

Products