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J Pediatr. 1988 Oct;113(4):713-21.

Growth, nutrient retention, and metabolic response in low birth weight infants fed varying intakes of protein and energy.

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Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032.


Growth, nutrient retention, and metabolic response were determined in low birth weight (LBW) infants fed daily protein and energy intakes, respectively, of 2.8 gm/kg and 119 kcal/kg (group 1), 3.8 gm/kg and 120 kcal/kg (group 2), and 3.9 gm/kg and 142 kcal/kg (group 3). The mean rates of both weight gain and nitrogen retention in group 1 were somewhat greater than intrauterine rates; plasma concentrations of transthyretin and albumin also were acceptable. Thus the lower protein intake appeared to be adequate. On the other hand, the rates of weight gain and nitrogen retention in groups 2 and 3 were greater than those in group 1, supporting the efficacy of the higher protein intake with respect to growth. However, blood urea nitrogen and plasma amino acid concentrations also were higher in groups 2 and 3; both were higher in group 2 than in group 3, reflecting the positive effect of the higher energy intake on protein utilization. This observation, combined with data from an earlier study, indicates that protein intakes in excess of 3 gm/100 kcal will not be utilized completely. Energy expenditure in group 3 was greater than in group 1 but not group 2, raising the possibility that protein intakes not utilized completely contribute to diet-induced thermogenesis. The higher energy intake in group 3 vs group 2 did not affect rate of weight gain significantly, but energy storage in group 3, and hence fat accretion, was greater than that of other groups. In all groups the ratio of protein accretion to fat accretion reflected dietary proportions of protein and energy.

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