A new study conducted by researchers from Brown University has demonstrated that breastfeeding plays significant role in brain development in infants.
The research team analyzed the brain growth in a sample group of children by specialized, baby-friendly magnetic resonance imaging quiet MRI when they were asleep, according to paper published in the journal NeuroImage.
They observed 133 babies ranging in ages from 10 months to four years who had normal gestation times, and all came from families with similar socioeconomic statuses.
“We wanted to see how early these changes in brain development actually occur,” said the study’s lead author Sean Deoni, assistant professor of engineering at Brown University in the United States.
The study unraveled that those babies who had only breastfeeding for at least three months were granted more development in their brain key parts compared to infants who were fed formula exclusively or who were fed a combination of formula and breast milk.
“We are finding the difference [in white matter growth] is on the order of 20 to 30 percent, comparing the breastfed and the non-breastfed kids,” said Deoni.
The extra improvement was also observed in parts of the brain which are responsible for language, emotional function, and cognition.
The researchers also found that the babies who were breastfed longer (more than a year) had remarkably enhanced brain growth especially in areas of the brain dealing with motor function compared to those babies who breastfed less than a year.
According to earlier behavioral studies, breastfeeding has been also associated with better cognitive outcomes in older adolescents and adults.
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