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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersDevelopmental TimelineFertilizationFirst TrimesterSecond TrimesterThird TrimesterFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFemale Reproductive SystemBeginning Cerebral HemispheresA Four Chambered HeartFirst Detectable Brain WavesThe Appearance of SomitesBasic Brain Structure in PlaceHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearFetal sexual organs visibleBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsInner Ear Bones HardenSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateFetal liver is producing blood cellsBrain convolutions beginBrain convolutions beginImmune system beginningWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisWhite fat begins to be madePeriod of rapid brain growthFull TermHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningLungs begin to produce surfactant
CLICK ON weeks 0 - 40 and follow along every 2 weeks of fetal development


Breastmilk best for premature baby's heart

For the first time, breastfeeding is linked to better cardiac structure and function in adults born prematurely.

An Oxford University study has found that breastfeeding premature babies improves long-term heart structure and function in the adult.

The hearts of babies born early often develop abnormally, explains Adam Lewandowski PhD, who led the research. Key developmental stages that would normally occur in utero during the third trimester of pregnancy, now have to take place outside the uterus. He and his colleagues at the Oxford Cardiovascular Clinical Research Facility, directed by Professor Paul Leeson, had previously found that hearts of adults born very preterm have smaller chambers with thicker walls and reduced function. Therefore, they wanted to explore if nutrition could improve the continued development of the premature heart ex-utero.

"We already had data on more than 900 individuals who were followed since birth as part of an earlier study, which started in 1982, on the effects of different feeding regimes in preterm infants.

"We therefore invited individuals who had been followed up throughout life to come to Oxford for a detailed cardiovascular study and used this information to investigate how different feeding regimes could affect the development of the heart in the long term."

Adam Lewandowski PhD, University of Oxford, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom

From the original group now in their early to mid-twenties, 102 people were able to visit Oxford and take part in the study. An additional 102 people of similar age, who had not been born prematurely, were also recruited.

The work was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Study results showed that while those born early had reduced heart volumes and function, as compared to those born at full term, their heart reduction was considerably less for people exclusively fed on breastmilk when compared to those fed only on formula. Furthermore, in those fed a combination of breastmilk and formula, the more breastmilk consumed in the diet as babies the better their heart structure and function as adults.

After analysing the results to take into account other factors that might have affected heart volume and function, breastfeeding — and the amount of breastmilk in the diet — was still clearly associated with better heart volume and function when compared to formula feeding.

"Even the best baby formula lacks some of the growth factors, enzymes and antibodies that breastmilk provides to developing babies. These results show that even in people whose premature birth has inevitably affected their development, breastfeeding may be able to improve heart development," explained Dr Lewandowski.

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Preterm birth relates to long-term alterations in cardiac morphology and function. Understanding whether preterm postnatal life is a tractable period of cardiovascular development that can be positively altered by nutrition is relevant to long-term outcomes. We hypothesized that being fed human breast milk during early postnatal life is beneficial to long-term cardiac structure and function in preterm-born individuals compared with infant formulas.

METHODS: A total of 926 preterm-born infants originally took part in a randomized controlled trial of postnatal milk-feeding regimens between 1982 and 1985 across 5 different UK centers. Preterm-born individuals were randomly assigned to either breast milk donated by unrelated lactating women or nutrient-enriched formulas. We followed 102 individuals from this cohort: 30 of whom had been randomized to being fed exclusively human milk and 16 to being fed exclusively formula. As a comparison group, we recruited an additional 102 individuals born term to uncomplicated pregnancies. Cardiac morphology and function were assessed by MRI.

RESULTS: Preterm-born individuals fed exclusively human milk as infants had increased left and right ventricular end-diastolic volume index (+9.73%, P = .04 and +18.2%, P < .001) and stroke volume index (+9.79%, P = .05 and +22.1%, P = .01) compared with preterm-born individuals who were exclusively formula fed as infants.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the first evidence of a beneficial association between breast milk and cardiac morphology and function in adult life in those born preterm and supports promotion of human milk for the care of preterm infants to reduce long-term cardiovascular risk.
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Jun 17, 2016   Fetal Timeline   Maternal Timeline   News   News Archive   

Prematue babies with reduced heart function were considerably limproved when exclusively fed
breastmilk as compared to those fed only formula. Also, in those babies fed a combination of
breastmilk and formula, the more breastmilk — the better heart structure and function as adults.
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