Effect of protein/energy ratio on growth and behavior of premature infants: Preliminary findings

Jatinder Bhatia, David K. Rassin, Mary C. Cerreto, David E. Bee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Premature infants weighing less than 1550 gm at birth were randomly assigned to receive one of three formulas identical in composition except for protein content (2.2, 2.7, and 3.2 gm·100 kcal-1) to determine the effects on growth, protein nutritional status, and behavior. Data collected for 2 weeks from the time of achieving an enteral energy intake of 100 kcal·kg-1·day-1 included measurements of weight, length, head circumference, and skin-fold thickness, and concentrations of plasma amino acids, serum total protein, prealbumin, retinolbinding protein, and urea nitrogen. In a subset of infants, behavior was assessed at the end of the feeding study with the Neonatal Behavior Assessment Scale. Except for the concentrations of plasma amino acids, there were no significant differences in growth or in other biochemical measurements among the three groups, but there were significant differences in the orlentation, habituation, and stability clusters of the behavior assessment. Further, there were significant correlations between the plasma amino acid values and the behavioral clusters. These preliminary data suggest a relationship between protein intake in the neonatal period and behavioral outcome at the end of the feeding period in the absence of differences in growth and gross markers of protein nutritional status. The behavioral items noted to differ among the groups may indicate later cognitive outcome; detailed studies about behavioral responses to neonatal dietary intakes and later outcome seem indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Jul 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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