Breastfeeding and Brain Development

Health Nursing Mom 002

Breastfed babies show signs of early brain development, particularly in regions associated with language, emotional function and cognition, according to a new study at Brown University.

Researchers looked at 133 babies using specialized, “baby-friendly” magnetic resonance imaging to analyze brain growth in a sample of children under the age of 4. By age 2, babies who had been breastfed exclusively for at least three months had enhanced development compared to children who were fed formula exclusively, or who were fed a combination of formula and breast milk. All of the babies had normal gestation times, and all came from families with similar socioeconomic statuses.

Earlier behavioral studies have associated breastfeeding with better cognitive outcomes in older adolescents and adults. But this is the first imaging study that looked for differences associated with breastfeeding in the brains of very young and healthy children.

Learn more at (search for “breastfeeding”).

Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer and editor in Chapel Hill.

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