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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Little Rock, Arkansas » Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #319535

Research Project: Impact of Early Dietary Factors on Child Development and Health

Location: Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center

Title: Sex-specific association between infant diet and white matter integrity in 8-y-old children

Author
item OU, XIAWEI - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item ANDRES, ALINE - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item CLEVES, MARIO - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item PIVIK, RUDOLPH - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item SNOW, JEFFERY - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item DING, ZHAOHUA - Vanderbilt University
item BADGER, THOMAS - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)

Submitted to: Pediatric Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/30/2014
Publication Date: 9/24/2014
Citation: Ou, X., Andres, A., Cleves, M.A., Pivik, R.T., Snow, J.H., Ding, Z., Badger, T.M. 2014. Sex-specific association between infant diet and white matter integrity in 8-y-old children. Pediatric Research. 76(6):535-543.

Interpretive Summary: While breastfeeding is recommended by both the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and many recent studies have shown that breastfeeding during infancy may be associated with higher IQ and better school performance in childhood, it is not known why this association occurs. In our study, we hypothesized that breastfeeding during infancy may benefit the long term development of brain white matter (a component that transmit neural signals) in children, and therefore benefits the brain functioning. We studied 56 healthy children who were either breastfed of formula-fed for at least 8 months. We measured their brain white matter integrity using a method called diffusion tensor imaging, and also measured their IQ and language test scores. Our results showed that brain white matter is developed better in breastfed boys than formula fed boys, while this gender-specific effect was not observed in girls. Overall (for all children), the higher integrity, the higher IQ and better language scores. Our study indicates that breastfeeding may benefit brain white matter development in children which is associated with better brain functioning, and this benefit may be more prominent for boys.

Technical Abstract: Background: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding, which is well known to promote cognitive and behavioral development. The evidence for why this occurs is not well understood. Methods: Fifty-six 7.5- to 8.5-y-old healthy children were breastfed (BF; n = 22, 10 males) or formula-fed (FF; n = 34, 16 males) as infants. All children were administered: the Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scale (RIAS); the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF-4) tests; and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)measured fractional anisotropy (FA) values were correlated with RIAS and CELF-4 scores. Results: DTI tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) analyses showed multiple white matter regions in the left hemisphere with significantly higher FA (P < 0.05, corrected) values in BF than FF males, but no significant group differences in females. Males who were exclusively BF for at least 1 y appeared to have the greatest differences in FA. Mean FA values positively correlated with composite scores of RIAS (P = 0.03) and CELF-4 (P = 0.02). Conclusion: Breastfeeding during infancy was associated with better white matter development at 8 y of age in boys. A similar association was not observed in girls.