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Nutrients or nursing? Understanding how breast milk feeding affects child cognition

Nutrients or nursing? Understanding how breast milk feeding affects child cognition
Nutrients or nursing? Understanding how breast milk feeding affects child cognition
Purpose: to explore the associations between type of milk feeding (the “nutrients”) and mode of breast milk feeding (the “nursing”) with child cognition.

Methods: healthy children from the GUSTO (Growing Up in Singapore Toward healthy Outcomes) cohort participated in repeated neurodevelopmental assessments between 6 and 54 months. For “nutrients”, we compared children exclusively bottle-fed according to type of milk received: formula only (n=296) vs some/all breast milk (n=73). For “nursing”, we included only children who were fully fed breast milk, comparing those fed directly at the breast (n=59) vs those fed partially/completely by bottle (n=63).

Results: compared to infants fed formula only, those who were bottle-fed breast milk demonstrated significantly better cognitive performance on both the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (Third Edition) at 2 years [adjusted mean difference (95% CI) 1.36 (0.32, 2.40)], and on the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (Second Edition) at 4.5 years [7.59 (1.20, 13.99)]. Children bottle-fed breast milk also demonstrated better gross motor skills at 2 years than those fed formula [1.60 (0.09, 3.10)]. Among infants fully fed breast milk, those fed directly at the breast scored higher on several memory tasks compared to children bottle-fed breast milk, including the deferred imitation task at 6 months [0.67 (0.02, 1.32)] and relational binding tasks at 6 [0.41 (0.07, 0.74)], 41 [0.67 (0.04, 1.29)] and 54 [0.12 (0.01, 0.22)] months.

Conclusions: our findings suggest that nutrients in breast milk may improve general child cognition, while nursing infants directly at the breast may influence memory.
Breast milk expression, Breastfeeding, Child cognition, Memory
1436-6207
609-619
Pang, Wei Wei
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Tan, Pei Ting
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Cai, Shirong
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Fok, Doris
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Chua, Mei Chien
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Lim, Sock Bee
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Shek, Lynette P.
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Chan, Shiao-Yng
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Tan, Kok Hian
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Yap, Fabian
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Gluckman, Peter D.
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Godfrey, Keith
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Meaney, Michael J.
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Broekman, Birit
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Kramer, Michael S.
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Chong, Yap-Seng
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Rifkin-Graboi, Anne
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Pang, Wei Wei
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Tan, Pei Ting
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Cai, Shirong
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Fok, Doris
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Chua, Mei Chien
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Lim, Sock Bee
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Shek, Lynette P.
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Chan, Shiao-Yng
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Tan, Kok Hian
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Yap, Fabian
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Gluckman, Peter D.
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Godfrey, Keith
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Meaney, Michael J.
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Broekman, Birit
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Kramer, Michael S.
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Chong, Yap-Seng
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Rifkin-Graboi, Anne
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Pang, Wei Wei, Tan, Pei Ting, Cai, Shirong, Fok, Doris, Chua, Mei Chien, Lim, Sock Bee, Shek, Lynette P., Chan, Shiao-Yng, Tan, Kok Hian, Yap, Fabian, Gluckman, Peter D., Godfrey, Keith, Meaney, Michael J., Broekman, Birit, Kramer, Michael S., Chong, Yap-Seng and Rifkin-Graboi, Anne (2020) Nutrients or nursing? Understanding how breast milk feeding affects child cognition. European Journal of Nutrition, 59 (2), 609-619. (doi:10.1007/s00394-019-01929-2).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Purpose: to explore the associations between type of milk feeding (the “nutrients”) and mode of breast milk feeding (the “nursing”) with child cognition.

Methods: healthy children from the GUSTO (Growing Up in Singapore Toward healthy Outcomes) cohort participated in repeated neurodevelopmental assessments between 6 and 54 months. For “nutrients”, we compared children exclusively bottle-fed according to type of milk received: formula only (n=296) vs some/all breast milk (n=73). For “nursing”, we included only children who were fully fed breast milk, comparing those fed directly at the breast (n=59) vs those fed partially/completely by bottle (n=63).

Results: compared to infants fed formula only, those who were bottle-fed breast milk demonstrated significantly better cognitive performance on both the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (Third Edition) at 2 years [adjusted mean difference (95% CI) 1.36 (0.32, 2.40)], and on the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (Second Edition) at 4.5 years [7.59 (1.20, 13.99)]. Children bottle-fed breast milk also demonstrated better gross motor skills at 2 years than those fed formula [1.60 (0.09, 3.10)]. Among infants fully fed breast milk, those fed directly at the breast scored higher on several memory tasks compared to children bottle-fed breast milk, including the deferred imitation task at 6 months [0.67 (0.02, 1.32)] and relational binding tasks at 6 [0.41 (0.07, 0.74)], 41 [0.67 (0.04, 1.29)] and 54 [0.12 (0.01, 0.22)] months.

Conclusions: our findings suggest that nutrients in breast milk may improve general child cognition, while nursing infants directly at the breast may influence memory.

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Accepted/In Press date: 9 February 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 26 February 2019
Published date: 2020
Keywords: Breast milk expression, Breastfeeding, Child cognition, Memory

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 428683
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/428683
ISSN: 1436-6207
PURE UUID: 450806c9-f51c-4971-ab3e-9aada0677201
ORCID for Keith Godfrey: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4643-0618

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 06 Mar 2019 17:30
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 02:35

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Contributors

Author: Wei Wei Pang
Author: Pei Ting Tan
Author: Shirong Cai
Author: Doris Fok
Author: Mei Chien Chua
Author: Sock Bee Lim
Author: Lynette P. Shek
Author: Shiao-Yng Chan
Author: Kok Hian Tan
Author: Fabian Yap
Author: Peter D. Gluckman
Author: Keith Godfrey ORCID iD
Author: Michael J. Meaney
Author: Birit Broekman
Author: Michael S. Kramer
Author: Yap-Seng Chong
Author: Anne Rifkin-Graboi

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