Influence of a Functional Nutrients-Enriched Infant Formula on Language Development in Healthy Children at Four Years Old.

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Nutrition during early life is essential for brain development and establishes the basis for cognitive and language skills development. It is well established that breastfeeding, compared to formula feeding, has been traditionally associated with increased neurodevelopmental scores up to early adulthood. We analyzed the long-term effects of a new infant formula enriched with bioactive compounds on healthy children's language development at four years old. In a randomized double-blind COGNIS study, 122 children attended the follow-up call at four years. From them, 89 children were fed a standard infant formula (SF, n = 46) or an experimental infant formula enriched with functional nutrients (EF, n = 43) during their first 18 months of life. As a reference group, 33 exclusively breastfed (BF) were included. Language development was assessed using the Oral Language Task of Navarra-Revised (PLON-R). ANCOVA, chi-square test, and logistic regression models were performed. EF children seemed to show higher scores in use of language and oral spontaneous expression than SF children, and both SF and EF groups did not differ from the BF group. Moreover, it seems that SF children were more frequently categorized into "need to improve and delayed" in the use of language than EF children, and might more frequently present "need to improve and delayed" in the PLON-R total score than BF children. Finally, the results suggest that SF children presented a higher risk of suffering language development than BF children. Secondary analysis also showed a slight trend between low socioeconomic status and poorer language skills. The functional compound-enriched infant formula seems to be associated with beneficial long-term effects in the development of child's language at four years old in a similar way to breastfed infants.
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breastfeeding, functional nutrients, infant formula, language development