New study shows that compounds present in breast milk help to make the heart stronger.

The research was carried out on premature babies. In recent years it has been found that preterm babies grow in subtly different ways than infants born at term. In 2013, Adam Lewandowski of Oxford University showed that as young adults, individuals who were born early usually have a heart that is a bit heavier, with smaller chamber volumes and weaker functioning. This may predispose them to congestive heart failure in old age.

The researchers wanted to determine why this occurs. They thought the formula provided in the neonatal intensive care units might be a factor. They wanted to know if preterm infants who were only fed breast milk during their time in the intensive care unit have more normal hearts as adults compared to babies who were solely given infant formula at the time.

The results were interesting. Compared with healthy adults of the same age, size and gender who were born full term, people born early had a slightly different heart structure. They also had higher blood pressure. Fortunately, the differences were only minor for those who were preterm and exclusively fed breast milk. Differences were more significant for people born preterm and only fed infant formula.

So it seems that breast milk contains necessary compounds for heart development and function. Breast milk contains so many beneficial compounds. It contains far more than just vitamins and minerals. Breast milk is high in fat and the essential fatty acids likely play a role. It is also an excellent source of probiotics. In the past researchers thought breast milk is sterile. We now know that probiotics from the mother are actually transferred to her baby via her breast milk. If you are currently breastfeeding or plan to in the near future, making sure your diet is as healthy as possible should be a top priority.