For babies born prematurely, having a mostly breast milk diet during the first month of life may spur more robust brain growth, compared with consuming little or no breast milk.
That’s the conclusion of research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies. Babies who are born before their due date may not have fully developed brains, so breast milk might help to increase brain tissue and cognitive development, according to researchers who studied 77 preterm babies.
Exactly how breast milk affects the brain or what substances in breast milk make it beneficial still needs to be studied, say the researchers. And because the study focused on premature babies, it’s not clear whether breast milk would provide similar brain development benefits for babies born at full term.