Breast Milk & Preemies

According to a recently published article, “Feeding premature babies mostly breast milk during the first month of life appears to spur more robust brain growth, compared with babies given little or no breast milk. Studying preterm infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the researchers found that preemies whose daily diets were at least 50 percent breast milk had more brain tissue and cortical-surface area by their due dates than premature babies who consumed significantly less breast milk.”

The article continues, “‘The brains of babies born before their due dates usually are not fully developed,” said senior investigator Cynthia Rogers, MD, an assistant professor of child psychiatry who treats patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “But breast milk has been shown to be helpful in other areas of development, so we looked to see what effect it might have on the brain. With MRI scans, we found that babies fed more breast milk had larger brain volumes. This is important because several other studies have shown a correlation between brain volume and cognitive development.’ The study included 77 preterm infants. The researchers retrospectively looked to see how much breast milk those babies had received while being cared for in the NICU. Then, the researchers conducted brain scans on those infants at about the time each would have been born had the babies not arrived early. All of the babies were born at least 10 weeks early, with an average gestation of 26 weeks, or about 14 weeks premature. Because they are still developing, preemies typically have smaller brains than full-term infants.”

Click here to read more.

Washington University School of Medicine. “Breast milk linked to significant early brain growth in preemies: Preemies fed mostly breast milk had larger brains by their due dates than those who consumed small amounts or none.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160430100552.htm>.

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