Breastmilk Spurs Brain Growth for Premature Babies

Breastmilk an Amazing Food for Preemies

Breastmilk is known to be the best super food for babies. Hospitals and health experts promote breast milk for its numerous health benefits to newborns.

A recent study on the effects of breast milk consumption further amplifies the wonder and the goodness of breast milk.

The study reveals that breast milk is linked to significant early brain growth in premature babies particularly during the first month of life, compared with babies given little or no breast milk.

Breastmilk fed premature baby in incubator.
Premature baby in incubator.

Babies Fed More Breast Milk Had Larger Brain Volumes

The study further reveals that preemies whose daily diets were at least 50 percent breast milk had more brain tissue and cortical-surface area by their due dates than premature babies who consumed significantly less breast milk.

First author Erin Reynolds, a research technician in Rogers’ laboratory, said as the amount of breast milk increased, a baby’s cortical surface area grows larger. The baby’s brain volumes may increase as well. The cortex is the part of the brain associated with cognition.

“So we assume that more cortex will help improve cognition as the babies grow and develop.” – Ms. Reynolds

About the Study

The researchers studied 77 preterm infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. To further probe on the effects of breast milk to premature babies, researchers used MRI scans. The results were amazing. The key outcome shows that babies fed more breast milk had larger brain volumes. This means that the larger brain volumes, the better cognitive development in babies.

First author Erin Reynolds said the study focuses on the influence of breast milk in general regardless of whether the milk came from the babies’ own mothers or breast milk donated by other women.

The researchers are scheduled to present their findings May 3 at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, in Baltimore.

What is Next

Preterm birth is known to interrupt vital brain development processes that reduces cognitive abilities in infants. Still determined to investigate the effects of breast milk in babies, Rogers and her colleagues plan to follow the babies in the study through their first years of life to observe their developmental milestones.

In addition, the team aims to further probe the correlation of brain size on any of the baby’s developmental milestones.

Rogers highlighted that a further study is necessary to find particularly how breast milk affects the brain and determine any specific component of breast milk that is a link to brain development.

The Power of Breastmilk and Breastfeeding

Breast milk is ultimately the best source of nutrition for a new baby. Many components in breast milk help protect the baby from infection and diseases. Its protein content has great infection-protection properties.

In addition, health experts and pediatricians strongly recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and that must continue until 24 months. Mothers will also benefit from breastfeeding for it helps the uterus to contract and curbs bleeding after delivery. Breastfeeding of course is a great way for mothers to bond with their babies.

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Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.