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Monday 24th October 2016

Early nutrition impacts on brain

20th February 2008

Researchers have discovered that nutrition in the first weeks of life impacts on the way the brain develops.

Premature Baby

A team from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the UCL Institute of Child Health found that preterm babies fed enriched formula milk in their first weeks consistently outperformed other premature babies in IQ tests. The trend also continued into later life.

The findings were published in Pediatric Research and showed that a particular part of the brain was better developed in those infants given the enriched milk. They also indicated that early feeding may altar the structure of the brain.

However, lead researcher Dr Elizabeth Isaacs said it remained unclear where this just related to preterm infants who have very specific development issues.

The infants were fed various versions of milk but in every case, children who received the enriched formula performed better.

That difference was particularly notable in boys at the age of eight. Those fed the normal diet had a verbal IQ 12.2 points lower on average than those fed the enriched formula. In girls, that difference showed up even more significantly at the age of 16.

With 10% of babies in the UK born prematurely, a spokesperson for the premature baby charity Bliss said: ‚ÄúThese findings are potentially very interesting and could have an influence on current thinking about how, when and what to feed premature infants. The care that premature babies receive in their first few hours and days of life is crucial and will shape their future development and quality of life.‚Ä?


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