WashingtonD.C., July 31 : Breastfeeding premature babies during their first month boost their Intelligent Quotient later in life, as per a research.
The study followed 180 pre-term infants from their birth to seven years of age and found that babies, who were fed more breast milk within the first 28 days of life, had larger volumes of certain regions of the brain at term equivalent and had better IQs, academic achievement, working memory and motor function.
"Our data support current recommendations for using mother's milk to feed preterm babies during their neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) hospitalization.
This is not only important for moms, but also for hospitals, employers, and friends and family members, so that they can provide the support that's needed during this time when mothers are under stress and working so hard to produce milk for their babies," said researcher Mandy Brown Belfort, from Brigham and Women's Hospital in the US.Researchers studied the infants born before 30 weeks gestation that was enrolled in the Victorian Infant Brain Studies cohort from 2001-2003.
They determined the number of days that infants received breast milk as more than 50 percent of their nutritional intake from birth to 28 days of life.
Additionally, the researchers examined data related to regional brain volumes measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at each baby's term equivalent age and at seven years old, and also looked at cognitive and motor testing at the age of seven.
The findings show that, across all babies, infants who received predominantly breast milk on more days during their NICU hospitalisation had larger deep nuclear gray matter volume, an area important for processing and transmitting neural signals to other parts of the brain, at term equivalent age, and by age seven, performed better in IQ, mathematics, working memory, and motor function tests.
Overall, ingesting more human milk correlated with better outcomes, including larger regional brain volumes at term equivalent and improved cognitive outcomes at age seven.
Researchers also noted some limitations on the study, including that it was observational. Although they adjusted for factors such as differences in maternal education, some of the effects could possibly be explained by other factors that were not measured, such as greater maternal involvement in other aspects of infant care.
The study was published in The Journal of Pediatrics..