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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ABSORPTION AND METABOLISM OF ESSENTIAL MINERAL NUTRIENTS IN CHILDREN Title: Total calcium absorption is similar from infant formulas with and without prebiotics and exceeds that in human milk-fed infants

Authors
item Hicks, Penni -
item Hawthorne, Keli -
item Berseth, Carol -
item Marunycz, John -
item Heubi, James -
item Abrams, Steven -

Submitted to: BMC Pediatrics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 2, 2012
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Citation: Hicks, P.D., Hawthorne, K.M., Berseth, C.L., Marunycz, J.D., Heubi, J.E., Abrams, S.A. 2012. Total calcium absorption is similar from infant formulas with and without prebiotics and exceeds that in human milk-fed infants. BMC Pediatrics. 12:118.

Interpretive Summary: We do not know whether current types of infant formulas that have new components in them lead to a good ability to absorb minerals such as calcium. To answer this question, we evaluated calcium absorption in infants fed a standard infant formula compared to infants fed a formula with non-absorbed sugars, called prebiotics. We also included for comparison a group of infants fed breast milk. We found that the proportion of calcium that was absorbed was higher from breast milk than from the formulas, but this was because the amount of calcium in both formulas was much higher than the amount of calcium in breast milk. When this was taken into account, we found that the total amount of calcium absorbed by the infants was higher from both formulas than from breast milk. We concluded that the inclusion of prebiotics in infant formulas did not affect the ability to absorb calcium or any other measure of bone health.

Technical Abstract: Our goal was to evaluate calcium absorption in infants fed a formula containing prebiotics (PF) and one without prebiotics (CF), and to compare calcium absorption from these formulas with a group of human milk-fed (HM) infants. A dual tracer stable isotope method was used to assess calcium absorption in infants exclusively fed CF (n = 30), PF (n = 25), or HM (n = 19). Analysis of variance was used to analyze calcium intake, fractional calcium absorption, and the amount of calcium absorbed. Calcium intake (Mean +/- SEM) for PF was 534 +/- 17 mg/d and 557 +/- 16 mg/d for CF (p = 0.33). Fractional calcium absorption was 56.8 +/- 2.6% for PF and 59.2 +/- 2.3% for CF (p = 0.49). Total calcium absorbed for PF was 300 +/- 14 mg/d and 328 +/- 13 mg/d for CF (p = 0.16). For HM infants, calcium intake was 246 +/- 20 mg/d, fractional calcium absorption was 76.0 +/- 2.9%, and total calcium absorbed was 187 +/- 16 mg/d (p <0.001, compared to either PF or CF). Despite lower fractional calcium absorption of CF and PF compared to HM, higher calcium content in both led to higher total calcium absorption compared to HM infants. No significant effect of prebiotics was observed on calcium absorption or other markers of bone mineral metabolism.

Last Modified: 10/26/2014
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