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Babies Are Brainier If Breastfed

Babies Are Brainier If Breastfed
Babies fed only breast milk in their first three months have 30% extra growth in the most important parts of the brain which control language, understanding and emotion.

They also have more white matter which is used for learning but the babies fed exclusively on formula milk have the least white matter.

Researchers at Brown University in The US say that their study of children under 4 showed clearly that those who have breast milk in their diet are front runners when it comes to brain development. By the time the babies were two there was a very obvious difference in the brain structure of the breastfed and the non-breastfed children..

The researchers looked at the brains of 133 full term babies who came from similar families.The brain scans of the babies fed exclusively breast milk showed the fastest growth in myelinated white matter which is tissue full of nerve fibres that link the different areas of the brain used for learning.The babies fed solely on formula were found to have the least amount of white matter.

The results of the MRI brain scans were backed-up with a set of cognitive tests that showed language performance, visual and motor control were all better in the breastfed children. The team also found that the longer the babies were fed with breast milk the more developed their brains were.

This new study from Browns is not the first to link breastfeeding with improved development in the young but it is the first time brain scans have compared the brains of breastfed and non-breastfed children.
Dr Deoni, one of the principal researchers, said: ‘I think I would argue that combined with all the other evidence, it seems like breastfeeding is absolutely beneficial.’

See Our Breastfeeding Section

June 2013

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