Neural Maturation of Breastfed Infants

Serçe Pehlevan Ö., Kara B., Briana D. D.

in: Breastfeeding and Metabolic Programming, Şahin ÖN,Briana DD,Di Renzo GC, Editor, Springer, London/Berlin , Arizona, pp.1-15, 2023

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter TextBook
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Publisher: Springer, London/Berlin 
  • City: Arizona
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-15
  • Editors: Şahin ÖN,Briana DD,Di Renzo GC, Editor
  • Kocaeli University Affiliated: Yes


Brain development starts from fetal life, and proceeds well into adolescence [1]. Brain structures and functioning develop sequentially [2]. Caudal to rostral progression occurs in brain development [2]. This progression starts from the rhombencephalon followed by the diencephalon and telencephalon. Cortical growth goes behind primary cortical structure formation [2, 3]. Neuronal maturation also occurs in a hierarchical progression. It starts from the “primitive” brainstem, and progresses to form “advanced” cortical and cognitive functions. This process proceeds beyond the first weeks of postnatal life [2–4]. The “triune brain” evolutionary hypothesis supports this hierarchical fashion of neuronal development. In this hypothesis, the early primitive brain, the intermediate brain, and the most advanced brain structure develop consecutively. The role of the early primitive brain is an arrangement of movement, vital functions, and self-preservation. The intermediate brain is associated with hunger, instincts, emotions, fight or flight, and memory and sensory input, and the last developed brain structures play roles in reasoning, motor functions, and perception [2, 5]. Neural structures grow rapidly and peak synaptogenesis of the medulla presents during the last weeks of gestation [2, 4, 6]. The one-third of brain growth takes place during the last 2 months of gestation [2, 7]. Therefore, preterm neonates have nearly 60% of the brain volume of a full-term neonate at birth. This smaller brain will continue to grow after birth [2, 7, 8]. Preterm infants also have decreased corpus callosum, white matter, and cortical gray matter volume in the adolescent period [9–13].