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Brain growth in babies liked to mothers' 'investment'


March 29, 2011 - Washington

A new Durham University research has revealed that brain growth in babies is linked to the amount of time and energy mothers 'invest'.

The study of 128 mammal species, including humans, shows that brain growth in babies is determined by the duration of Pregnancy and how long they suckle.

The research concludes that the longer the Pregnancy and breastfeeding period in mammals, the bigger the baby's brain grows.

The researchers say the findings reinforce the suggestion that breast is best for brain development and add further weight to the World Health Organisation's advice of six months' exclusive breastfeeding followed by continuing breastfeeding up to the age of two or beyond supplemented with solid foods.

The study helps to explain why humans, who suckle their babies for up to three years in addition to their nine-month pregnancies, have such a long period of dependency as this is necessary to support the growth of our enormous 1300cc brains.

In comparison, species such as fallow deer, which are about the same body weight as humans, are only pregnant for seven months with a suckling period of up to six months, resulting in brains of only 220cc, six times smaller than the human brain.

The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

ANI

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