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U Of M Study Asks Why Breastfeeding Is Beneficial To Babies

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- We've heard about the benefits of breast milk for babies, but why it's beneficial is something local researchers are trying to figure out.

The University of Minnesota is conducting a MILK study -- it stands for Mothers and Infants Linked for Healthy Growth. The study looks at how breast milk is different from mom to mom and how it affects the baby's growth.

Lucy is just one month old, and she's already getting to be part of science.

Adrienne Kinde and daughter Lucy
(credit: CBS)

"I want my daughters to grow up in science so that's good," Adrienne Kinde of Roseville said.

It's part of a study to figure out the physical and cognitive impact of breastfeeding. Lucy's older sister did the study too.

"I'm just curious to see how the breast milk overall impacts their long term health, their risks for obesity," Kinde said.

In a two and a half hour appointment, the baby will be breastfed, weighed and put through a series of tests.

Lucy spends a few minutes in the "pea pod" that will measure her percentage of body fat.

The pea pod
(credit: CBS)

She'll also wear a head net while listening to different sounds to test her memory.

"We don't know enough about what's actually in breast milk. So we know a lot about the benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding, but we don't really know why," epidemiology professor Dr. Ellen Demerath said.

Demerath, the study's director, says by measuring how different breastfed babies develop, researchers hope to change health care long term.

"If we find things that are in the milk that are particularly good for infants, we're going to want to personalize maybe nutrition in the mom to augment those factors in the milk," Demerath said.

The study will look at close to 400 mom and baby pairs. They still need about 100 more.

And parents -- the pod looks scarier than it feels to baby.

Baby in the pea pod
(credit: CBS)

"I think it's a great thing to invest in so I want to encourage anybody to do it," Kinde said.

The study requires appointments at one, three and six months. Mothers are compensated. If you're interested in participating, you can find their research booth at the State Fair this year. For more information, click here.

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