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J Pediatr. 1986 Jun;108(6):964-71.

Energy balance in low birth weight infants fed formula of high or low medium-chain triglyceride content.


We tested the effect on energy balance of the partial substitution of medium-chain for long-chain triglycerides in the diet of growing low birth weight infants. Fifteen infants were studied in a randomized double-blind crossover clinical trial in which each infant was fed each of two formulas, which were of equal gross energy and protein content but differed in fat composition. The high medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) formula contained medium- and long-chain triglycerides in a weight/weight ratio of 46:54; in the low MCT formula the ratio was 4:96. The hypothesis tested was that under conditions of equal gross energy intake the two diets would differ in their digestible and metabolizable energy contents and would produce differences in the infants' rates of energy expenditure and energy storage. Gross energy intakes averaged 562 and 555 kJ/kg/day (134 and 133 kcal/kg/day) with the high and low MCT formulas, respectively. With each diet, coefficients of energy digestibility (0.93) and metabolizability (0.91) were identical; the rates of energy expenditure were 262 (high MCT) and 265 (low MCT) kJ/kg/day (63 kcal/kg/day for both diets), and of energy storage were 246 (high MCT) and 239 (low MCT) kJ/kg/day (59 and 57 kcal/day). These differences were not significant. There were also no significant differences between the two diets in coefficients of nitrogen retention (mean 0.70) or in rate of weight gain (mean 21.5 gm/kg/day). The use of high MCT content in infant formula neither provided a nutritional advantage in energy digestibility or metabolizability nor resulted in an increased rate of energy expenditure or of energy storage.

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