Should Formula Contain DHA?

For 4-month-old Jonah it's just an afternoon meal. What he can't possibly know is that the formula his nanny is about to feed him is controversial.

Like Jonah, his mom, Jessica Skeen, doesn't know there's a heated scientific debate going on. It's about what isn't in Jonah's formulas: A fatty acid called DHA, CBS News Correspondent Jeffrey Kofman reports.

"I try to keep relatively current. I have a new baby and I want to do what s best for him. But I've never heard of it," Skeen says.

Americans may not be familiar with it, but in 60 countries, including most of Europe, it is a standard ingredient. DHA is found in mother's milk and the World Health Organization believes it's an important additive in infant formula.

Chessa Lutter, of the World Health Organization, says, "It does have effects on improved vision and information processing and problem solving skills in infants."

What is and isn't in here is suddenly a hot topic because for the first time in more than a decade the Food and Drug Administration is revising its regulations for infant formula. Even though three nutrients have been added to the list of 29 that are already required, DHA still isn t allowed.

While there is evidence in favor of DHA, some studies show that it can have harmful effects: slowing growth and causing enlarged livers and spleens. Nutritionist Mindy Hermann, of Child magazine says there just hasn't been enough research.

"I don't think that moms should be worried. There are generations of American children who have grown up on formula and have done just fine," she says.

And as the FDA sees it, Jonah will be just fine too. The agency has been criticized recently for fast-tracking other approvals, so when it comes to America's infants, it's not going to be rushed.