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Breastfeeding duration, milk fat composition and developmental indices at 1 year of life among breastfed infants.

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Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, Milan, 20142, Italy.


The associations of breastfeeding duration and milk fat composition with the developmental outcome at 1 year of age were measured within 44 infants exclusively breastfed for 3 months, out of 95 recruited at birth. Pooled breast milk (hindmilk) of the mothers was analysed at colostrum, 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months for total fat and fatty acid content. Infants were examined at 12 months by means of the Bayley test. There was a progressive reduction of the number of breastfed babies after the introduction of solids to 29 (6 months), 17 (9 months) and 10 (12 months). After adjusting for major confounders, infants breastfed for 6 months or longer showed a trend to have an advantage at the Bayley psychomotor developmental index compared to those breastfed >3 and <6 months (95% CI for difference: - 0.6, 13.8; P= 0.07) while the Bayley mental developmental index (MDI) was just 2.1 points higher. Among the milk fat components considered for each time-point, the total fat content at 6 months showed the strongest association with the MDI at 12 months (r=0.59, P=0.001). Prolonging breastfeeding during the weaning process may result in a better developmental performance at 12 months, possibly due to the supply of fats affecting brain composition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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