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Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
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Infant Pain Heightened After Opioid Exposure in WombPutting Your Child to Sleep in a Car Seat Can Be DeadlySwallowed Batteries Should Be Removed to Avoid Stomach Damage: StudyHealth Tip: Physical Milestones at Age OneWhat to Do When Your Child Throws a FitLow Birth Weight Babies a Worldwide ProblemQuieter NICUs a Good Rx for Premature BabiesHow to Soothe Baby's Teething Pain SafelyHow to Protect Your Child From ChokingNearly 700,000 Infant Rocking Sleepers Recalled Due to Infant DeathsBreast Milk Has Biggest Benefit for Preemies' Brains: StudyBabies Still Dying Due to Unsafe Sleep PracticesHealth Tip: Choosing a Car SeatHot-Car Deaths Hit Record High in 2018Newborn's 'Microbiome' Could Give Clues to Weight LaterKids' ER Visits for Swallowing Toys, Foreign Objects Have Doubled Since 1990sHealth Tip: Treating an Infant's FeverPediatricians' Group Calls for Recall of 'Rock 'n Play' Sleeper After Infant DeathsPreventing Kids' Food Allergies Starts in InfancyTen Infant Deaths Linked to Fisher-Price Rock 'N Play SleepersBaby-Led Eating: A Healthier ApproachIs That Medication Safe When Breastfeeding?Fussy Baby May Raise Mom's Risk of DepressionExposing Baby to Foods Early May Help Prevent AllergiesSmoking While Pregnant Sends SIDS Risk SoaringKeep Your Child Safe in Her High Chair6 Years: How Long New Parents Can Expect to Lose SleepHealth Tip: Choking Hazards for ChildrenFeatherlight, Wireless Sensors Let Parents Cuddle Their PreemiesPainless Ways to Limit Your Kids' Screen TimeBreastfeeding May Cut Kids' Eczema RiskScreen Time for the Very Young Has Doubled in 20 Years: StudyGlass-Fronted Fireplaces Pose Burn Dangers for KidsUp to 1 Hour of General Anesthesia Safe for Infants: StudyPumped Breast Milk Falls Short of Breastfed VersionHealth Tip: Signs of Vision Problems in InfantsClimate Change Could Bring More Infant Heart Defects: StudyOpioid Danger to Newborns Varies By RegionToo Much Screen Time a Damper on Child's DevelopmentHealth Tip: Talk to Your BabyIVF Won't Cause Birth Complications: StudyBaby Steps Head Off a Fussy EaterWhy It's Important to Boost Baby's Vocabulary NowDecoding Newborn's DNA Could Pinpoint Hidden RisksTeething Jewelry Linked to at Least One Baby's Death: FDAHealth Tip: Keep Toys SimpleNose Holds Clues to Baby's First ColdOpioids Exact Another Toll on Newborns: Smaller HeadsScans, Ultrasound Spot Zika Brain DefectsCost of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: $23,000 Annually Per Case
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Breast Milk Has Biggest Benefit for Preemies' Brains: Study

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Apr 29th 2019

new article illustration

SATURDAY, April 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Another reason breast is best: Breast milk boosts levels of chemicals crucial for brain growth and development in premature babies with a very low birth weight, a new study reveals.

"Our previous research established that vulnerable preterm infants who are fed breast milk early in life have improved brain growth and neurodevelopmental outcomes," said Catherine Limperopoulos, director of MRI research of the developing brain at Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C.

However, she added, "It was unclear what makes breastfeeding so beneficial for newborns' developing brains."

For the new study, her team used "proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy" to solve the mystery. The non-invasive imaging reveals the chemical makeup of specific brain structures, enabling researchers to measure metabolites essential for growth.

With this technology, the researchers examined the brains of very low birth weight babies (under 3.3 pounds). The infants were born after no more than 32 weeks of pregnancy.

The team focused on the right frontal white matter and the cerebellum, a brain region that's involved in balance, muscle coordination and supports high-order mental functions.

Compared to formula-fed babies, those fed breast milk had significantly higher levels of inositol in the cerebral white matter, and significantly higher creatine levels.

Study lead author Katherine Ottolini explained that "key metabolite levels ramp up during the times babies' brains experience exponential growth."

The percentage of days infants were fed breast milk was associated with significantly higher levels of both creatine and a water soluble nutrient called choline, the researchers reported.

"Creatine facilitates recycling of ATP, the cell's energy currency. Seeing greater quantities of this metabolite denotes more rapid changes and higher cellular maturation. Choline is a marker of cell membrane turnover; when new cells are generated, we see choline levels rise," Ottolini said in a health system news release.

The study is scheduled to be presented Monday at a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, in Baltimore. Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

About one in 10 U.S. infants is born preterm, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More information

The March of Dimes has more on premature babies.