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Open Access Research article

Total calcium absorption is similar from infant formulas with and without prebiotics and exceeds that in human milk-fed infants

Penni D Hicks123*, Keli M Hawthorne12, Carol L Berseth3, John D Marunycz3, James E Heubi4 and Steven A Abrams12

Author Affiliations

1 Rice University, Houston, TX, USA

2 Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service Children's Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA

3 Mead Johnson Nutrition, Evansville, IN, USA

4 Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA

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BMC Pediatrics 2012, 12:118  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-118

Published: 7 August 2012

Abstract

Background

1) To evaluate calcium absorption in infants fed a formula containing prebiotics (PF) and one without prebiotics (CF). 2) To compare calcium absorption from these formulas with a group of human milk-fed (HM) infants.

Methods

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.

Results

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).

Conclusions

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.