WASHINGTON, April 28 (Xinhua) -- A study showed that premature infants who consume breast milk have significantly higher levels of chemicals important for brain growth.
The study presented at the ongoing Pediatric Academic Societies 2019 Meeting in Baltimore enrolled babies who had very low birthweight (less than 1,500 grams) and 32 weeks gestational age or younger at birth.
The team at Children's National gathered data from the right frontal white matter and the cerebellum via proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
Cerebral white matter spectra showed significantly greater levels of inositol, a molecule similar to glucose, for babies fed breast milk, compared with babies fed formula, according to the study.
Cerebellar spectra showed significantly greater creatine levels for breastfed babies compared with infants fed formula.
Also, the percentage of days infants were fed breast milk was associated with significantly greater levels of both creatine and choline, a water soluble nutrient.
Creatine facilitates recycling of the cell's energy turnover, so greater quantities of this metabolite resulted in more rapid changes and higher cellular maturation, while choline is a marker of cell membrane turnover, according to the study.
"Key metabolite levels ramp up during the times babies' brains experience exponential growth," said pediatrics specialist Katherine Ottolini, the study's lead author.