Undoubtedly, breast milk is the healthiest choice for nourishing infants. It offers advantages for both the infant and the mother. The valuable antibodies present in breast milk strengthen the immune system of the newborn, providing a solid defense against infections. At the same time, mothers who choose to breastfeed their babies can reduce the chances of suffering from certain diseases. Recent research also highlights the influence of breast milk on a baby’s brain development.
Breast milk promotes the baby’s brain
Scientists at Tufts University in Massachusetts made a relevant discovery about a sugar molecule present in breast milk. It directly impacts the brain development of newborns. These researchers are part of the Center for Human Nutrition and Aging Research at the aforementioned university. The results of their study have been detailed in an article published in the specialized journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The research focused on “myo-inositol” and its advantages as an essential micronutrient. It is present in breast milk produced by the mother during the first months of the baby’s life. These months are critical for the formation of neural connections in the infant’s brain. In addition, breast milk provides amino acids and fatty acids that play a key role in the brain development of the newborn. This highlights the importance of this micronutrient in early nutrition and infant cognitive development.
For the purpose of conducting the study, the scientists collected breast milk samples from women in good health who came from diverse geographic regions. These women resided in cities such as Mexico City, Cincinnati, and Shanghai. The focus of analysis was directed toward myo-inositol concentration, which showed variations associated with the ethnicity and social background of the participants. This research provided valuable information on the differences in myo-inositol levels in breast milk in different populations.
Also, they proved that mothers’ diet and nutrition have an important impact on infants’ development. During infancy, the blood-brain barrier is more permeable, allowing micronutrients present in breast milk to easily reach the brain of infants. This essential transfer contributes significantly to brain growth in infants.
Importance of inositol
The sugar molecule known as myo-inositol is found naturally in cereals, legumes and fruits such as bran, beans and melons. This means that we continue to consume it when we include these foods in our diet. Despite its presence in foods, previous research has pointed to a gradual decline in inositol levels in the brains of young people as they age. These studies have also confirmed that adults with lower inositol levels have a higher risk of bipolar disorder or severe depression.
So far, they were unable to confirm whether low inositol levels may be related to mental disorders. It has also not been determined whether medications used to treat bipolar disorder or depression have any effect on inositol levels in the brains of adults.
Experts recommend that mothers breastfeed their infants. In situations where this is not possible, it is positive to consult with the specialist about the possibility of adding this molecule to infant milk formula as an option to improve nutrition.