Department (e.g. History, Chemistry, Finance, etc.)
College (e.g. College of Engineering, College of Arts & Sciences, Haslam College of Business, etc.)
College of Nursing
Cognitive development is an important part of infant growth since intellectual predilections in infancy set enduring patterns. Evidence supports that exclusive or mixed breastfeeding for at least one month may improve general child cognition scores. Breast milk contains nutrients such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), arachidonic acid (AA), zinc, choline, and vitamin B12 that enhance myelination in the brain to improve cognition. Even if formula is able to be fortified with these vitamins and minerals, formula-fed infants tend to experience slower digestion with less nutrient absorption. Despite the potential nutritional gains of breastfeeding, there is a knowledge gap regarding how long breastfeeding must be continued to see improved cognitive outcomes as well as how long these cognitive benefits last. Determining this correlation is complicated by the fact that 43% of women who start out exclusively breastfeeding will stop by 3 months.The purpose of this research project is to review and synthesize the literature on the relationship between a minimum of 1 month of exclusive or mixed breastfeeding versus exclusive formula feeding on infant cognitive development from birth to early childhood. We expect to find that exclusive or mixed breastfeeding for at least one month will have a positive relationship with early childhood cognitive outcomes compared to exclusive formula feeding.