Benefits of breast milk for the cognitive development of infants

According to researchers, factors such as the benefits of breast milk can influence the development of a baby. Previous animal studies have shown that a carbohydrate – the oligosaccharide 2’FL found in breast milk – can have a positive effect on the development of the nervous system. In the first study in humans, researchers showed that this ingredient promotes cognitive development in children.

Benefits of breast milk for newborns

Benefits of breast milk young mother feeds her newborn child

In this cohort study of 50 mothers and their babies, the researchers analyzed the composition of breast milk and the frequency of feeding at the age of 1 and 6 months. Cognitive development was measured on the Bayley III scale after 24 months. This is a standardized test for infants and young children. The study showed that the amount of oligosaccharide in the first month of feeding was associated with significantly higher cognitive values ​​in babies 2 years of age. The 2’FL in breast milk was not associated with cognitive results after 6 months. This suggests that early exposure may be more beneficial.

blond toddler lies on his mother's chest

In many studies, scientists have highlighted the positive effects of breastfeeding on cognitive development. “We wanted to find out exactly what caused this effect,” said Michael Goran, director of the Diabetes and Obesity Program at the Saban Research Institute at the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. He is also the lead author of this study. Using a statistical method called mediation, the researchers were able to independently assess the effects of breastfeeding in general and the effects of oligosaccharide 2’FL.

research results

preparation of baby food from breast milk powder

Based on these observations, the team came to an important conclusion. The increased neurological development caused by breastfeeding was primarily due to mothers who produced more of it. So the baby could consume more of it.

“We know that the benefits of breast milk offer many different compounds and that the composition is dynamic. This changes over time and is very different for mothers, ”said Dr. Goran. “In addition to determining the effects of oligosaccharide 2’FL, we also wanted to determine when it is most critical for a child's development.”

“Breastfeeding is a challenge for some women. For those who cannot breastfeed or can only breastfeed for a short time, 2’FL could possibly be a supplement to the diet. The baby gets this to improve cognitive performance, “said Dr. Berger about the study.

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