Nutritional efficacy of preterm formula with a partially hydrolyzed protein source: a randomized pilot study

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2001 May;32(5):555-61. doi: 10.1097/00005176-200105000-00012.


Background: Decreased nitrogen levels, calcium intestinal absorption rates, and plasma amino acid imbalances were reported for preterm infants who were fed partially hydrolyzed preterm formulas. In this pilot study, we evaluated a new formula with modified nitrogen and calcium sources.

Methods: During their second week of life, 16 preterm infants were randomly assigned to one of two groups: 9 were fed the new partially hydrolyzed formula and 7 were fed a conventional formula. Nutrient balance was performed at the end of the first month of life. Amino acid concentrations and anthropometric parameters were measured at theoretical term.

Results: Birth weight and gestational age (mean +/- SD) were similar in the two groups (28.9 +/- 7.0 weeks and 1183 +/- 242 g vs. 27.7 +/- 1.0 weeks and 1139 +/- 162 g). Median nitrogen absorption rates (85% vs. 89%; P = 0.03) and biological values (59% vs. 69%; P = 0.13) were lower for infants who were fed the new formula than for those fed the conventional formula. After correction for difference in nitrogen intake, there was no significant difference in nitrogen retained between the two groups (P = 0.11). Plasma amino acid concentrations were also similar in the two groups. Median calcium absorption tended to be higher in the new-formula group than in the conventional-formula group (54% vs. 45%, P = 0.19). At theoretical term, infants fed the conventional formula were heavier than infants fed the new formula (3559 +/- 362 g vs. 3193 +/- 384 g, P = 0.04).

Conclusions: Because nitrogen content is 10% higher in hydrolyzed-protein formula than in entire-protein formula, appropriate nitrogen retention, plasma amino acid profile, and mineral use can be achieved with the new partially hydrolyzed formula. Further studies with larger groups are needed to evaluate the effect on growth.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / blood*
  • Anthropometry
  • Calcium, Dietary / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Infant Food
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Nitrogen / pharmacokinetics
  • Pilot Projects
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Weight Gain


  • Amino Acids
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Proteins
  • Nitrogen