Cognitive development in infants has earned extensive focus in recent years. Cognition, as a term, includes for instance motoric skills, cognitive control, moral understanding, language acquisition, identity and emotional development.
Infants are relatively immature at birth, even when born healthy and at term. Human infants, thus, are very dependent and need complete care for months, despite massive development during gestation. Other mammals are much more self-reliant already days to weeks after birth. This emphasizes the special needs for support of our young infants and children.
Research intends to find out whether direct links exist between the infant diet, gut, immunity and brain, and how these are shaped in early life. Breastfeeding, for instance, is recognized to positively impact gut health and cognitive skills. Infants that are breastfed also suffer from fewer infections than other infants.
Breastmilk is a complex diet, its composition is dynamic and varies within and between feedings, during the day, during the overall period of lactation and between mothers and populations. Recent studies even suggest that the infant affects the breastmilk composition. The physical contact and exchange of bacteria between the infant’s mouth and the mother’s breast during the feeding may cause the effect.