In a study published online in NeuroImage, researchers from Brown University and King's College London found that increased breastfeeding was associated with increased white matter development in the brain between ages 10 months and 4 years. The study examined white matter microstructure using magnetic resonance Imaging (MRI) among 133 infants, comparing those who were exclusively breastfed for 3 months to those who either were exclusively formula fed or had mixed feeding.
The areas of the brain where the white matter microstructure was increased are generally associated with planning, social and emotional functioning, motor ability and language. Among older children in the study, longer breastfeeding duration was indeed associated with higher gross motor, fine motor, receptive language, and visual reception skills according to behavioral tests.
These findings highlight the importance of breastfeeding for health and well-being.