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Research Project: Impact of Maternal Influence and Early Dietary Factors on Child Growth, Development, and Metabolic Health

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Title: Impact of feeding habits on the development of language-specific processing of phonemes in brain:An event-related potentials study

item ALATORRE-CRUZ, GRACIELA - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item ANDRES, ALINE - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item GU, YUYUAN - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item DOWNS, HEATHER - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item DARCY, HAGOOD - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item SORENSEN, SETH - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item KEITH, WILLIAN - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item LARSON-PRIOR, LINDA - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)

Submitted to: Frontiers in Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/27/2023
Publication Date: 2/17/2023
Citation: Alatorre-Cruz, G.C., Andres, A., Gu, Y., Downs, H., Darcy, H., Sorensen, S., Keith, W.D., Larson-Prior, L.J. 2023. Impact of diet on the development of language-specific processing of phonemes in the infant brain. An event-related potentials study. Frontiers in Nutrition.

Interpretive Summary: IOnfants show multiple changes in language processing during the first year of life, and it has been described differences between infants in language development. We suppose that breast milk's or milk-based formula's nutritional properties might be associated with these differences in language development. We analyzed three groups of infants: breastfed participants and two groups of infants fed with milk-based formulas (i.e., cow and soy-milk-based) at 3, 6, 9, 12, and 24 months of age. We compared their brain electrical activity associated with phonological processing. Participants fed with soy-based formula showed a slower phonological development than breastfed infants and those fed with cow-milk-based formula.

Technical Abstract: Infancy is a stage characterized by multiple brain and cognitive changes. In a short time, infants must consolidate a new brain network and develop two important properties for speech comprehension: phonemic normalization and categorical perception. Recent studies have described diet as an essential factor in normal language development, reporting that breastfed infants show an earlier brain maturity and thus a faster cognitive development. Few studies have described a long-term effect of diet on phonological perception. To explore that effect, we compared the event-related potentials (ERPs) collected during an oddball paradigm (frequent /pa/ 80 %, deviant /ba/ 20%) of infants fed with breast milk (BF), cow-milk-based formula (MF), and soy-based formula (SF), which were assessed at 3, 6, 9, 12, and 24 months of age (Mean across all age groups: 127 BF infants, Mean (M) 39.6 gestation weeks; 121 MF infants, M = 39.16 gestation weeks; 116 SF infants, M = 39.16 gestation weeks). Behavioral differences between dietary groups in acoustic comprehension were observed at 24-months of age. The BF group displayed greater scores than the MF and SF groups. In phonological discrimination task, the ERPs analyses showed that SF group had an electrophysiological pattern associated with difficulties in phonological-stimulus awareness (mismatch negativity (MMN)-2 latency in frontal left regions of interest (ROI) and longer MMN-2 latency in temporal right ROI) and less brain maturity than BF and MF groups. The SF group displayed more right-lateralized brain recruitment in phonological processing at 12-months old. We conclude that the use of soy-based formula in a prolonged and frequent manner might affect whether an infant reaches the language milestone at 12 months of age as the BF and MF groups do. The soy-based formula's composition negatively affects frontal left-brain area development, which is a nodal brain region in phonological-stimuli awareness.