Neural maturation of breastfed and formula-fed infants

Authors

  • EMH Khedr,

    1. Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University Hospital, Assiut, Egypt; Department of Paediatric Medicine2, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University Hospital, Assiut, Egypt
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  • WMA Farghaly,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University Hospital, Assiut, Egypt; Department of Paediatric Medicine2, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University Hospital, Assiut, Egypt
    • Wafaa MA Farghaly, Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University Hospital, Assiut, Egypt (Tel. +2 088 35 0833 / 088 35 1838, fax. 002088 33 3327, e-mail. wafmaf2002@yahoo.com)

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  • S El-Din Amry,

    1. Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University Hospital, Assiut, Egypt; Department of Paediatric Medicine2, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University Hospital, Assiut, Egypt
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  • AAA Osman

    1. Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University Hospital, Assiut, Egypt; Department of Paediatric Medicine2, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University Hospital, Assiut, Egypt
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Abstract

Background: Human milk provides infants with a full complement of all polyunsaturated fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA). Formula milks only contain the precursors of DHA, AA and linoleic acid, and hence formula-fed infants must synthesize their own DHA and AA. Aim: To evaluate the effect of feeding—whether breastfeeding or formula-feeding—in early infancy upon subsequent neurodevelopment and achievement of optimum brain function. Subjects and methods: The study included 53 normal, healthy infants (30 exclusively breastfed infants and 23 exclusively formula-fed infants) at the age of 1 y (±1 mo). Each infant was subjected to a full physical and neurological examination together with neurophysiological studies including flash visual evoked potential (FVEP), brainstem auditory evoked potential (BAEP) and somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP). Results: There was significant prolongation of P100 wave latency of FVEP in formula-fed infants, together with significant prolongation of absolute latency of waves I, III and V of BAEP in formula-fed infants compared with breastfed infants. There was significant prolongation in inter-peak latencies between cortical and Erb's components in formula-fed infants compared with breastfed infants.

Conclusion: We can conclude that VEP, BAEP and SSEP are more mature in breastfed infants relative to formula-fed infants at 1 y of age, and thus breast milk helps earlier development and maturation of some aspects of the nervous system than milk formulas.

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