Study: Enriched formula made preemies smarter

February 21, 2008

Infant formula enriched with extra proteins, fat, and nicronutrients like calcium and copper increased preterm infants' cognitive abilities. The study was published in Pediatric Research...

Infant formula enriched with extra proteins, fat, and nicronutrients like calcium and copper increased preterm infants' cognitive abilities. The study was published in Pediatric Research.

Researchers at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital and the UCL institute of Health studied a group of children born in the 1980s. Some were given regular formula, some the enriched formula, some banked breast milk, and some banked milk plus enriched formula.

In all cases, babies who received the enriched formula ended up doing far better on IQ tests than those who did not. The average improvement was 12.2 verbal IQ points, at age seven or eight. By age 16 girls who had the formula scored nine points higher than those who did not. Boys scored seven points better.

Scans of the children's brains showed the enriched-formula children had substantially larger caudate nucleuses than those who did not. The caudate nucleus is considered the brain?s center of memory and learning.