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Nucleotide Supplementation Beneficial for Infant Growth

Last Updated: September 13, 2010.

Supplementation with dietary nucleotides, compounds found in breast milk, appears to result in increased weight gain and head growth in infants who are formula-fed, according to research published online Sept. 13 in Pediatrics.

MONDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Supplementation with dietary nucleotides, compounds found in breast milk, appears to result in increased weight gain and head growth in infants who are formula-fed, according to research published online Sept. 13 in Pediatrics.

Atul Singhal, M.D., of the Institute of Child Health in London, and colleagues assessed occipitofrontal head circumference, weight, and length of 100 infants given nucleotide-supplemented formula and 100 infants given non-supplemented formula from birth through 20 weeks, as well as in 101 breast-fed infants.

The researchers found that those fed nucleotide-supplemented formula had greater head circumference at 8, 16, and 20 weeks; higher weight at 8 weeks; and a greater increase in both head circumference and weight from birth to 8 weeks than those who received the control formula. In secondary analysis, the researchers found that occipitofrontal head circumference z score at 8 weeks was higher in breast-fed infants than in those given control formula but was not significantly different from that of infants given supplemented formula. Weight z score did not differ significantly among the three groups.

"Our data support the hypothesis that nucleotide supplementation leads to increased weight gain and head growth in formula-fed infants. Therefore, nucleotides could be conditionally essential for optimal infant growth in some formula-fed populations. Additional research is needed to test the hypothesis that the benefits of nucleotide supplementation for early head growth, a critical period for brain growth, have advantages for long-term cognitive development," the authors write.

The formula used in the study was donated by H.J. Heinz Company Ltd.

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