We all know breast feeding is best for both term and preterm infants. It reduces the chances of NEC and improves a range of other outcomes, most importantly the brain. This new study provides interesting information from a group of preterm infants in Australia (Victorian birth cohort) and looked at the number of days, in the first month of life, when they received more than 50% of their intake as breast milk. They then looked at the child's IQ outcomes (including maths, reading, reasoning skills etc.) at age 7 years and found a consistent association. Importantly the analysis is adjusted for other factors - we know that social class, and neonatal illness (NEC, BPD etc.) will affect your IQ outcomes, so they adjust for this (in effect try to 'cancel out' that bias) in the analyses. Of course, in any observational study there is a risk of residual confounding, but this appears to be yet more information supporting the longer term benefits of breast milk exposure in just the first 4 weeks of life.
- Breast Milk Feeding, Brain Development, and Neurocognitive Outcomes: A 7-Year Longitudinal Study in Infants Born at Less Than 30 Weeks' Gestation. Belfort, Mandy B. et al. The Journal of Pediatrics , Volume 177 , 133 - 139.e1