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Cognitive and Neurodevelopmental Effects of Human Milk in Preterm Infants

Despite improvements in neonatal and perinatal medicine, infants born prematurely have a significantly higher risk of neurological disabilities when compared to infants born at term. According to a 2002 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report, half of all extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants will have at least one significant neurodevelopmental impairment. As with many neonatal outcomes, these risks are inversely proportional to the infant's birth weight and gestational age at birth; the smaller and more preterm the infant, the greater the risk.

In this article, we will explore evidence related to the benefits of human milk in the neurological and cognitive development of infants, particularly preterm infants.

Read the Innovating Practice research overview and summaries now

  • Beneficial Effects of Breast Milk in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on the Developmental Outcome of Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants at 18 months of Age - journal article
  • Persistent Beneficial Effects of Breast Milk Ingested in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on Outcomes of Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants at 30 months of Age - journal article
  • Breastfeeding is Associated with Improved Child Cognitive Development: A Population-Based Cohort Study - journal article
  • Impact of Breast Milk on Intelligence Quotient, Brain Size, and White Matter Development - journal article

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