Maternal factors, such as breast milk, have been shown to affect a baby's development, and previous animal studies have determined that a carbohydrate, the oligosaccharide 2'FL found in maternal milk, positively influences neurodevelopment. Now, in the first study done in humans, investigators at Children's Hospital Los Angeles in collaboration with the University of California, San Diego, have shown that 2'FL found in breast milk enhances cognitive development. Findings will be published in PLOS ONE on Feb 12.
In this cohort study of 50 mothers and their babies, investigators analyzed breast milk composition and frequency of feeding at 1 and 6 months of age. Cognitive development was measured at 24 months using the Bayley-III scale, a standardized test of infant and toddler development. The study showed that the amount of 2'FL in breast milk in the first month of feeding was related to significantly higher cognitive development scores in babies by 2 years of age. The amount of 2'FL in breast milk at 6 months of feeding was not related to cognitive outcomes, indicating that early exposure may be more beneficial.
Many studies have reported a positive effect of breastfeeding on cognitive development. "We wanted to specifically identify what was causing this effect," said Michael Goran, PhD, Director of the Diabetes and Obesity Program at The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles and senior author on the study.
Through our high-throughput analytical platform we can quantify oligosaccharides like 2'FL and many others in hundreds of breast milk samples in a short period of time. This technology allows us to associate differences in milk composition with specific infant outcomes like cognitive development, validating existing data from preclinical models or generating entirely new hypotheses." Lars Bode, PhD, study collaborator and co-author, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence at the University of California, San Diego Related Stories
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