Protein Requirements of Term Infants - Quantity and Quality

Speaker: Prof. F. Haschke Presented at: 2015 JENS 1st Congress of Joint European Neonatal Societies


It is well known that within the first weeks of life preterm infants need a high protein requirement. However, in term infants that protein requirement is lower which has led FAO and WHO to lower the protein recommended protein intake. This follows the increasing knowledge on protein concentration in breast milk. Protein concentration decreases from 2.1-1.8g/100kcal during the first week to 1.4-1.1g/100kcal during the second half of the first year.

It has been shown through longitudinal randomized trial that term infants fed formula and follow up formulas with protein concentration over 2.25g/kcal (high protein infant formula) during the first year grow faster than recommended on the WHO growth chart standard. Rapid weight gain during infancy is a predictor of childhood and adult obesity. 

A study has shown that infants fed 1.8g/100kcal during the first 4 months grew according to the WHO standards and when fed formulas with 1.6-2.2g/100kcal from 3-4 months onward followed weight gain very similar to that of a breastfed child. Breastfeeding and the use of low protein formulas in those term infants who cannot be breastfed can help to prevent accelerated growth during infancy and childhood obesity.