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School of Medicine


Center for Neuroscience


Extended breastfeeding through infancy confers benefits on neurocognitive performance and intelligence tests, though few have examined the biological basis of these effects. To investigate correlations with breastfeeding, we examined the major white matter tracts in 4–8 year-old children using diffusion tensor imaging and volumetric measurements of the corpus callosum. We found a significant correlation between the duration of infant breastfeeding and fractional anisotropy scores in left-lateralized white matter tracts, including the left superior longitudinal fasciculus and left angular bundle, which is indicative of greater intrahemispheric connectivity. However, in contrast to expectations from earlier studies, no correlations were observed with corpus callosum size, and thus no correlations were observed when using such measures of global interhemispheric white matter connectivity development. These findings suggest a complex but significant positive association between breastfeeding duration and white matter connectivity, including in pathways known to be functionally relevant for reading and language development.

Source Citation

Bauer, C.E.; Lewis, J.W.; Brefczynski-Lewis, J.; Frum, C.; Schade, M.M.; Haut, M.W.; Montgomery-Downs, H.E. Breastfeeding Duration Is Associated with Regional, but Not Global, Differences in White Matter Tracts. Brain Sci. 2020, 10, 19.


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This article received support from the WVU Libraries' Open Access Author Fund.



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