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Journal of Human Growth and Development

Print version ISSN 0104-1282


TORO-RAMOS, Tatiana et al. Preterm infant language development: a role for breast milk fatty acids. Rev. bras. crescimento desenvolv. hum. [online]. 2013, vol.23, n.3, pp. 270-275. ISSN 0104-1282.

Premature infants have an increased risk of developmental disabilities during infancy and childhood. A crucial period of fetal polyunsaturated fatty acid accretion bypassed with prematurity. OBJECTIVE: to study how the fatty acid composition of breast milk in breast-fed premature infants is associated with cognitive, language, and motor development. METHODS: participants included twenty-five healthy preterms, born adequate for gestational age at the Fernandez Figueira Institute, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Fatty acid composition of breast milk samples from the first week postpartum was analyzed using gas-liquid chromatography. Bayley-III developmental scales were applied at 9 or 12 months corrected age. RESULTS: regression analyses revealed that the ratio of linoleic acid to alpha-linolenic acid was positively associated with receptive language development (â = 1.49, p = 0.03). Women with preterm infants showed breast milk long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids concentrations consistent with worldwide levels and a high ratio of linoleic acid to alpha-linolenic acid that might be beneficial for language development in the premature infant. CONCLUSION: a higher ratio of linoleic to alpha-linolenic acid in breast milk could exert beneficial effects for receptive language development in preterm infants fed breast milk. Larger adequately powered longitudinal studies are recommended to better understand the breast milk composition of this population and its association to developmental indices during infancy.

Keywords : fatty acids; essential; cognition; language; breastfeeding; preterm infants.

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