Breast milk makes for bright kids with ‘helpful’ gene

November 14th, 2007 - 8:32 am ICT by admin  
The study, conducted by Julia Kim-Cohen, assistant professor of psychology at the Yale University and collaborators, found that it is the genetic variant in FADS2, a gene involved in the control of fatty acid pathways, that may help the children make better use of the breast milk and promote the brain development that is associated with a higher IQ score.

In the study 1,037 children and 1,116 families with same sex twins in were studied.

The analysis found that those who were breastfed and had the genetic variant FADS2 had IQs that were 5.6 to 6.3 points higher than children who were breastfed but did not have the variant.

“It is this genetic variant in FADS2, a gene involved in the control of fatty acid pathways, that may help the children make better use of the breast milk and promote the brain development that is associated with a higher IQ score,” Kim-Cohen said.

“Children who do not carry the ‘helpful’ genetic variant have normal average IQ scores. Being breastfed for them is not associated with an IQ advantage,” she said.

he study analysed that how long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAS), which are present in human milk but not in cow’s milk or most infant formulas, are metabolised.

The authors of the study said that LC-PUFAS in breast milk is believed to enhance cognitive development in kids because the fatty acids are required for efficient neurotransmission and are involved in neuronal growth and regeneration.

The researchers concluded that a genetic variant might also enhance a favourable response to a health promoting exposure present throughout human ancestry.

“The finding has many implications, including for the public understanding of genetics. To date, research on gene-environment interactions has been dominated by the search for genetic variants that increase disease susceptibility to environmental pathogens,” the authors said.

“However, genes are not only implicated in disease. Here we have shown that a genetic variant may also enhance a favourable response to a health promoting exposure present throughout human ancestry,” they added. (ANI)

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