Background Exclusively breastfed premature babies have been shown to have higher intelligent quotient scores and superior cognitive development than those deprived of human milk. However the underlying cause has not been clearly defined.
Aim The aim of this study is to measure genetic expression of FADS2 gene responsible for cognition in babies exposed to different modes of feeding.
Methods Thirty preterm babies were studied for gene expression of FADS2 at birth and three months later. They were randomized into those supported to exclusively breastfeed (15) and those exposed to the normal routine of formula feeding practices in the neonatal intensive care units.
Findings There was no difference between gene expression between the groups at birth. However FADS2 expression was shown to be significantly higher in the breast fed groups at three months of age.
Conclusions Exposure of preterms to human milk potentates cognition through influencing transfer and/or maturation of genetic information responsible for cognition.