Breastfeeding boosts baby's brain growth
Score one more for breastfeeding. Using MRIs, researchers from Brown University have found that that breastfeeding could boost the growth of babies' brains. They concluded that a child's brain develops better when he or she is breastfed, rather than being fed formula or a combination of breastfeeding and formula.
This is the first imaging study that looked for development differences in children who are breastfed and those who are not, though the cognitive benefits of breastfeeding have long been rumored.
This study made use of specialized, baby-friendly "quiet" MRI machines to evaluate children under the age of four. The brain scans found that by age two,, babies who had been breastfed exclusively for a period of at least three months had greater development in key parts of the brain than children who were fed via different means. The parts of the brain enhanced by breastfeeding included those associated with language, emotional function and cognition. After observing 133 babies between 10 months old and four years old, the researchers found that the breastfed babies had the fastest growth in myelinated white matter, with the increase in white matter volume becoming significant by age two.
The results suggested that breastfeeding can increase brain development by as much as 20 to 30 percent, according to the researchers. Additionally, babies who were breastfed for a longer duration also exhibited enhancement in the part of the brain associated with motor function.