Wednesday, September 19, 2018 by Michelle Simmons
Here’s another reason why mothers should breastfeed their babies: Breastfeeding was found to result in better brain development and lowers the risk of infections in premature babies. In a study presented during the 2017 annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, researchers from the Children’s National Health System found that breast milk helps enhance the development of critical white structures in the brains of prematurely born babies.
In the study, researchers investigated the developing brains of infants, searching for biological clues to identify vulnerable premature babies in order to offer interventions that can reduce their risk of developing long-term health complications.
Premature babies typically weigh less than 1,500 grams at birth and are more likely to have neurodevelopmental problems that frequently do not fully occur until they start to go to school. In the U.S., one in 10 babies is born prematurely, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To conduct the study, the researchers used modern imaging tools to analyze brain development in very low birth weight premature babies – weighing approximately three pounds at birth. For the study, the researchers enrolled 37 babies born at 32 weeks or earlier and were admitted to children’s neonatal intensive care unit within the first 48 hours of life. These infants were divided into two groups: 22 premature babies received formula designed to meet the nutritional needs of babies born preterm, while 15 babies were fed breast milk.
The researchers used leveraged diffusion tensor imaging to measure the organization of the developing white matter of the brain and 3D magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure brain volume by region, structure, and tissue type.
Results revealed that breastfed premature babies exhibited increased white matter microstructural organization in the brain. This indicates stronger fiber tracts and microarchitecture of the developing white matter, which may lead to better neurologic outcomes in premature babies.
“Previous research has linked early breast milk feeding with increased volumetric brain growth and improved cognitive and behavioral outcomes,” said Catherine Limperopoulus, senior author of the study.
Therefore, the researchers concluded that breastfeeding premature babies can result in better brain development than feeding them with formula milk.
By breastfeeding, you are actually giving your child the best start to live a healthy life. It offers a lot of health benefits for your child and for you as well. Here are some of them:
Read more news stories and studies on enhancing brain development in babies by going to Brain.news.