Papers And Originals

Protein Intake and Plasma Amino-acids of Infants of Low Birth Weight

Br Med J 1971; 4 doi: (Published 25 December 1971) Cite this as: Br Med J 1971;4:789
  1. H. B. Valman,
  2. R. J. K. Brown,
  3. T. Palmer,
  4. V. G. Oberholzer,
  5. B. Levin


    The plasma amino-acid levels in infants of low birth weight fed on expressed human milk and on a proprietary breast-milk substitute, S26, with a protein intake of not more than 4·5 g/kg/day were compared with those in infants fed on an evaporated milk formula whose protein intake ranged from 6·15 to 12·3 g/kg/day, as well as with normal infants on normal feeds and protein intake. In general, there was little difference between the levels in infants of low birth weight and in normal infants on the same protein intake. The five infants of low birth weight on high protein intake had generally higher levels of plasma amino-acids compared with the group on the lower protein intake, and in particular the levels of tyrosine, phenylalanine, methionine, and cystathionine could be extremely high. Apart from methionine these high levels may be the result both of a reduction in activity of the enzymes involved in the metabolism of these amino-acids, due to the immaturity of the infant, and of the increased stress of a high protein intake. In view of a possible long-term effect of abnormally high plasma amino-acid levels it is suggested that the protein intake of infants of low birth weight should not exceed 6 g/kg/day.