The Ross Products division of Abbott Laboratories is to use oils produced by Martek Biosciences Corp. in a new infant formula.

The formula will be enriched with Martek’s nutritional docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) oils, and will be launched in the US early this year. DHA and ARA are natural components of breast-milk and are believed by many researchers to play a pivotal role in perinatal neural development, the company said.

In May 2001 the Food and Drug Administration completed a favourable review of Martek’s GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe) notification regarding the use of its DHA and ARA in infant formula. As the company stressed, the FDA’s clearance pertains exclusively to Martek’s oil blend and does not extend to any other sources of DHA and ARA.

Clinical research has shown that the oils in question can improve the mental and visual development of formula-fed babies. Martek’s DHA and ARA are already available in infant formulas in more than 60 countries worldwide.