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Three Months of Breastfeeding Could Improve a Child’s Development

Update Date: Jun 07, 2013 10:59 AM EDT

It is no surprise that breastfeeding can boost a child's development. Numerous studies have tied breastfeeding to healthy benefits, such as lowering the risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and boosting the immune system. A new study searching for other benefits to breastfeeding discovered that just three months of breastfeeding could make a huge difference in how children develop. Although this finding does not add any new findings necessarily, it does provide more evidence that breastfeeding is vital. The research conducted by scientists from Brown University in Providence, RI, United States, concluded that three months of breastfeeding could boost brain development by 30 percent.

The researchers analyzed the brains of 133 infants that came from similar backgrounds and families. The babies were all born on time. The researchers compared myelin, which is responsible for forming the layer known as the myelin sheath that helps the nervous system to function properly. They studied the degree of development of myelin in older and younger children in order to compare how much breast milk might have influenced the growth. The researchers also conducted scans using a basic set of cognitive tests. They discovered that children who were breastfed performed better on the language portion, visual reception and motor control of the test.  Furthermore, the research team found that the longer the breastfeeding period, the larger the development.

Although this study's findings continue to confirm previous findings about the benefits of breastfeeding, the lead author, Dr. Sean Deoni, believes that this is the first study to use MRI (magnetic resonance imagine) scans to compare the benefits of being breastfed measured by the development of myelinated white matter.  

"I think it's astounding that you could have that much difference so early. I think I would argue that combined with all the other evidence, it seems like breastfeeding is absolutely beneficial," Deoni said according to Daily Mail.

The study was published in NeuroImage

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