March 1, 2024

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Premature babies who drink more breast milk have higher IQs and better academic performance

Premature babies who drink more breast milk have higher IQs and better academic performance


Study: Premature babies who drink more breast milk have higher IQs and better academic performance.

Premature babies are less able to learn in math, reading and other abilities and are also at higher risk for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

However, a recent study has shown that intervening in the weeks and months after birth in premature babies may improve neurodevelopmental outcomes later in life.




In a seven-year study of premature babies, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and collaborators from the South Australian Institute of Health and Medical Research found that drinking more during and after the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) Breastfed children have higher academic performance, higher IQs, and fewer symptoms of ADHD.

The results of the study were published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association .


“Our study found that providing breast milk to premature infants may have long-term neurodevelopmental benefits,” said corresponding author Mandy Brown Belfort, MD, of the Division of Pediatric Neonatal Medicine. “Many families are committed to the idea of ​​providing breast milk, but can face serious challenges. Our findings underscore the importance of providing support for initiating and maintaining lactation, as breast milk at this early stage can provide benefits many years later.”


Belfort and colleagues studied the neurodevelopmental outcomes of 586 children born at less than 33 weeks’ gestation in one of five perinatal facilities in Australia.

Children were assessed at age 7 (corrected for preterm birth).

The researchers examined data on breast milk dose (how much breast milk a baby gets each day) and breast milk duration (how long a mother continues to breastfeed) to see if they predict certain neurodevelopmental outcomes.

These outcomes included academic performance, verbal and performance IQ, ADHD symptoms, executive function, and behavior.


Overall, the team found that higher breast milk intake was associated with higher performance IQ and higher reading and math scores.

Parents also reported that children who drank more breast milk during infancy experienced fewer ADHD symptoms. The duration of breast milk intake (until 18 months of corrected age) was also associated with higher reading, spelling and math scores.

The researchers controlled for confounding factors, including clinical and social factors. These beneficial associations were stronger for infants born at the lowest gestational age, especially those born before 30 weeks of gestation.


The authors noted that their study was observational — they could not establish cause and effect, as there may be other uncalculated factors affecting the ability to provide breast milk and academic achievement.

Strengths of the study include its sheer size, the range of findings, and the ability for researchers to assess school-age outcomes.

Other studies have only followed preschool children, making it difficult to assess the full range of neurodevelopmental outcomes.


Overall, Belfort sees the team’s findings as a nod to guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, both of which recommend breastfeeding for babies.


Belfort said: “Our study confirms the recommended strategies to support parents in providing breast milk for premature babies. It reinforces the call for health policies and parental leave policies that support, rather than oppose, parents. As a society, we need to invest in families – – It’s an investment that will continue to benefit children when they reach school age.”







Premature babies who drink more breast milk have higher IQs and better academic performance

(source:internet, reference only)

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Important Note: The information provided is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice.