New Research: Breastfed babies' brains develop faster
Does breastfeeding = brainpower? According to a new study, yes!
Many mothers know that breastfeeding is an essential component of a baby's nourishment and development. However, new research has found that it can also be a catalyst for better, and faster brains.
A study published in July in the journal Pediatrics found that children who received more breast milk during their first 28 days of life had more gray matter at various locations within the brain at the age of 7, compared to those who received less. Gray matter consists of neurons and it is where cognition and processing within the brain take place.
The study followed 180 preterm infants from birth past the age of 7, conducting MRI brain scans and tests at various ages. The babies were treated in neonatal intensive care units and given as much breast milk as possible, but not equal amounts.
The data from the study found that 7-year-olds who were breastfed more often during their first month of development scored significantly higher on tests of IQ, working memory, math and motor skills.
The study's lead author Mandy Brown Belfort, a physician and researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told Science Daily, “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."
Learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding your babies, and how it helps support healthy, better brains!
This new study is just one of the many indicators in recent memory that point out the benefits of breastfeeding for infants. Namely, how breastfeeding benefits cognitive function.
As a matter of fact, a study published in 2010 in Pediatric Research found that infants with a higher proportion of breast milk in their diets had higher IQs and boys given more milk had larger brains than those who didn’t. These studies suggest that components within breast milk actually help the brain develop better and grow bigger.
In addition to the aforementioned studies, a research paper published in NeuroImage in 2013 found that already by the age of 2, breast-fed infants had 20 to 30 percent more white matter—which is involved in communication between different brain regions and the body—compared to those given formula.
Clearly, there is an abundance of research proving the myriad of benefits that breastfeeding brings your baby. Mothers who are blessed with the ability to provide nourishment for their infants via breastfeeding, now more than ever, are encouraged to do so. Not just for the general nourishment of your baby, but for their neurological development!