February 20 : Investigators at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles in collaboration with the University of California, San Diego, found that babies who get exposed to a carbohydrate called oligosaccharide 2’FL found in breast milk affect their neurodevelopment.
It’s a known fact that breast milk helps the baby’s development. Earlier, experiments done on animals found that a kind of carbohydrate called the oligosaccharide 2’FL is found in mother’s milk that helps in the child’s neurodevelopment. Now, a similar study was done on humans, which revealed that 2’FL found in mother’s milk help better cognitive development of a child.
Early exposure is more beneficial
The team tested and studied the composition of breast milk and the number of times a baby of 1 to 6 months of age was fed on mother’s milk. Their cognitive development was measured after 24 months with the help of a standardized test done to measure a toddler’s development. The study found that the amount of 2’FL carbohydrate found in breast milk in the first month significantly increased cognitive development in babies by age 2 years. The amount of 2’FL found in breast milk at 6 months of feeding was not found to relate to cognitive development. This clearly indicates that early exposure to this carbohydrate is more beneficial to infants.
The researchers found that 2’FL is higher in mother’s milk in the first month of a baby’s life. 2’FL in breast milk reduces in the sixth month of the baby’s life. As a result, the first month’s breast milk is more beneficial for neurodevelopment than later months.
Impact of oligosaccharide 2’FL carbohydrate
Many studies have confirmed the positive effect of breast milk on cognitive development. But the new study identified the composition of breast milk that was causing this effect on neurodevelopment.
Breast milk contains many different compounds, which change over time and vary from mother to mother. The team found that mothers who produce more 2’FL are lucky to contribute more to the neurodevelopment of their babies.
The team suggested that mothers who cannot breastfeed their kids can add 2’FL to the nutrition of their babies for better cognitive development.