Breastfeeding strengthens preemies’ hearts, study finds

Premature babies’ hearts receive great benefits from breast milk, and those who consumed most do better, according to an NHLBI-funded study published in the journal JAMA Network Open. 

The researchers studied 80 premature or preterm babies, those born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, and found that, by their first birthday, the ones with higher consumption of their mothers’ breast milk had improved heart function, approaching the level of healthy full-term babies.    

According to the authors, these findings offer the first evidence of a link between the early diet of premature infants and heart function over the first year of life. This is important because children and adults who were born prematurely have higher risk of developing and dying of cardiovascular diseases.