Maternal milk feeding for preterm infants born at less than 33 weeks’ gestation has been associated with improved cognitive, academic, and behavioural outcomes at seven years old.
Research suggests that children who receive greater quantities of maternal milk both during and after time in the neonatal intensive care unit have greater academic achievement, higher IQs, and reduced attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms. The results also found that most associations were stronger among infants born at lower gestational ages, particularly less than 30 weeks.
The study included 586 preterm infants born at five Australian perinatal centres between 2001 and 2005. The children were then evaluated at age seven and the statistical analysis was completed in January 2022.
The authors note that their study is observational and they cannot determine causality as there may be other, unaccounted factors that influence both the ability to provide maternal milk and academic achievement.
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