SOURCE: Abbott Nutrition

August 22, 2011 05:00 ET

Infant Brain and Eye Development - It's Not Just Fun and Games

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Aug 22, 2011) - (Family Features) Playtime and interactive toys are important for parents looking to give their children a head start in life. But these products aren't the only way to help stimulate a baby's brain and eye development -- nutrition is important, too.

A baby's brain and eyes depend critically on nutrition and there are specific nutrients which have been shown to play a role in brain and eye development.

A Closer Look at Lutein
During the critical time of brain and eye development, Lutein and DHA are important nutrients, yet Lutein has gone virtually unnoticed by parents.

Lutein is found in foods such as leafy greens, certain fruits and eggs. Emerging science demonstrates that Lutein helps protect important cells in the eye. Now, new research from Tufts University demonstrates -- for the first time -- that Lutein is not only present in the eyes, but it is also present in the infant brain. The regions of the brain where Lutein is found are associated with memory and learning.

"Moms should be aware of the emerging research on Lutein," said Dr. Alanna Levine, a pediatrician and mother of two children. "Moms in my practice ask me every day about ways to promote development in their children. Many focus on products, games, and toys and sometimes overlook nutrition."

Sources of Lutein
Prior to the introduction of solid foods, babies can get Lutein from a few sources, including breast milk and Similac. "Expecting and breastfeeding mothers alike should eat a well-balanced diet that includes foods with Lutein like leafy green vegetables and eggs," added Levine. "And parents who formula feed should look for an infant formula that contains Lutein, as well as DHA."

For Breastfeeding Mothers and Infants Transitioned to Solid Food
(Not an exhaustive list. Foods listed in descending order of Lutein content.)

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Zucchini Squash
  • Yellow Squash
  • Green Beans
  • Corn
  • Kiwi
  • Eggs
  • Apples

For Infants
(Prior to the introduction of solid foods.)

  • Breast milk
  • Infant formula supplemented with Lutein, such as Similac Advance

I See, I Learn
"In addition to the right nutrients, playing together does encourage brain and eye development," said Levine. "Rather than focusing on the latest toy, parents can do simple things like spending time with their children in front of a mirror, playing peek-a-boo or tracking the objects on a mobile."

To learn more about Lutein and brain and eye development, visit

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