Monday October 15, 2018

Breast Milk Boosts Brain Development in Premature Babies

For the study, the team analysed MRI brain scans of a small number of babies

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Breastmilk
Breastmilk aids in combatting diseases in Newborns. Pixabay.
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Premature babies fed with breast milk are more likely to have better brain development than those fed on formula milk, a new study has found.

According to studies, pre-term birth is associated with changes in the part of the brain’s structure that helps brain cells to communicate with one another, known as white matter.

However, this research showed that pre-term babies who exclusively received breast milk for at least three-quarters of the days spent in hospital showed improved brain connectivity, compared to babies who consumed less.

“Our findings suggest that brain development in the weeks after pre-term birth is improved in babies who receive greater amounts of breast milk,” said James Boardman, Director of the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh.

“The study highlights the need for more research to understand the role of early life nutrition for improving long-term outcomes for pre-term babies, he added.

Premature birth is associated with the possibilities of an increased risk of the decline of cognitive skills in later life, which are thought to be linked to alterations in brain development.

Breast Milk
Breast milk may help boost preemies’ brain development. Pixabay

Helping mothers to provide breast milk in the weeks after giving birth could improve long-term outcomes for children born pre-term, the researchers noted, in the paper published in the journal NeuroImage.

“Mothers of pre-term babies should be supported to provide breast milk while their baby is in neonatal care — if they are able to and if their baby is well enough to receive milk — because this may give their children the best chance of healthy brain development,” Boardman said.

For the study, the team analysed MRI brain scans of a small number of babies.

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The babies were born before 33 weeks gestation and scans took place when they reached term-equivalent age, an average of 40 weeks from conception.

The effects were greatest in babies who were fed breast milk for a greater proportion of their time spent in intensive care. (IANS)

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Premature Babies And Their Care In Hospitals

Judy Campbell, a lactation consultant, says because of the team's success, calls from mothers with preemies has nearly quadrupled.

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Premature babies
Low Cost Study Has High Impact Results For Premature Babies. VOA

No one knows exactly why some babies are born prematurely, but some of the smallest premature babies weigh under 1,500 grams. These tiny babies — called micro preemies — can’t afford to lose an ounce. At Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, a team of specialists has come up with a plan to give these babies the best chance to live and thrive.

When Vanessa Ohakam gave birth to her son, she was only 24 weeks pregnant. Vanessa was terrified. Her newborn J.C. weighed just a little more than 736 grams or about one and a half pounds.

“I couldn’t even change a diaper I was so nervous and anxious. He just looked so frail. But the nurses were very supportive and encouraging.”

Ohakam and J.C. were lucky. J.C. was in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington during the course of a nutritional study.

A team of specialists at the hospital’s NICU, the neo-natal intensive care unit, wanted to see if they could help J.C. and other very small premature babies boost their weight and improve their chances to thrive.

Michelande Ridore is a health care administrator who leads the team.

“Preemies, in particular, have high incidents of malnutrition as well as poor development,” Ridore said.

As Ridore explained, these premature babies have so little body fat, they can’t afford to waste energy. Some are in blanketed incubators to encourage sleep so they don’t move around and burn calories. The team focused on what — and when — the babies ate.

Caitlin Forsythe is the lead nurse on the study.