Background Infant cognitive development is influenced by maternal factors that range from obesity to early feeding and breast milk composition. Animal studies suggest a role for human milk oligosaccharide (HMO), 2’-fucosyllactose (2’FL), on learning and memory, yet no human studies have examined its impact on infant cognitive development relative to other HMOs and maternal factors. Objective To determine the impact of 2’FL from breast milk feeding on infant cognitive development at 24 months of age relative to maternal obesity and breast milk feeding frequency. Methods and materials Hispanic mother-infant pairs (N = 50) were recruited across the spectrum of pre-pregnancy BMI. Breast milk was collected at 1 and 6 months, and feedings/day were reported. Nineteen HMOs were analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography, with initial interest in 2’FL. Infant cognitive development score was assessed with the Bayley-III Scale at 24 months. Linear regressions were used for prediction, and bootstrapping to determine mediation by 2’FL. Results Maternal pre-pregnancy BMI was not related to feedings/day or HMOs, but predicted poorer infant cognitive development (β = -0.31, P = 0.03). Feedings/day (β = 0.34) and 2’FL (β = 0.59) at 1 month predicted better infant cognitive development (both P≤ 0.01). The association of feedings/day with infant cognitive development was no longer significant after further adjustment for 2’FL (estimated mediation effect = 0.13, P = 0.04). There were no associations of feedings/day and 2’FL at 6 months with infant cognitive development. Conclusions Our findings suggest that maternal factors influence infant cognitive development through multiple means. Though maternal obesity may be a separate negative influence, greater frequency of breast milk feeding at 1 month contributed to infant cognitive development through greater exposure to 2’FL relative to other HMOs. The influence of 2’FL was not significant at 6 months, indicating that early exposure to 2’FL may be a critical temporal window for positively influencing infant cognitive development.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
MIG received funds from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH R01 DK110793) and the Gerber Foundation (15PN-013) to support this research. The URL for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases is as follows: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/. The URL for the Gerber Foundation is as follows: https://www. gerberfoundation.org/. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The authors thank the participating mothers for their commitment to this research. We also thank Carla Flores, Danielle Garcia, Rosa Rangel, Sinthia Arcadia Rodriguez, Elizabeth Campbell, and Claudia Rios for coordination of this project, and our research collaborators for administering the Bayley Scales of Infant Development.
© 2020 Berger et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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