Brown University Study Adds to the Research on the Benefits of Breastfeeding

NueroImageA study by researchers at Brown University provides additional information on the benefits of breastfeeding. The study examined brain development in children under the age of 4. The results found that by age 2, babies who had been breastfed for at least three months had enhanced development in key areas of the brain compared to babies who were fed formula exclusively or who had been fed a combination of formula and breast milk. The enhanced development was documented in areas of the brain associated with language, emotional development, and cognition.

The research was conducted by taking MRI images of the children’s brains while they were asleep. The images showed that breastfed babies had higher myelin content, the fatty material that insulates nerve fibers and speeds electrical signals in the brain. Those babies who were breastfed longer, showed greater myelin content.

The researchers backed up the imaging by giving cognitive function tests to the children which showed the breastfed children performing better on tasks relating to language and motor skills.

Sean Deoni, assistant professor at Brown and lead author of the study, stated, “We’re finding that the difference in white matter growth is on the order to 20 to 30 percent, comparing the breastfed and non-breastfed kids.

The article, “Breastfeeding and Early White Matter Development: A Cross-Sectional Study,” was published on the website of the journal NeuroImage. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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