Among other components of human milk, oligosaccharides might contribute to the high efficiency of calcium absorption of breastfed infants. In adults, it can be shown that dietary oligosaccharides can improve calcium absorption. The present analysis was performed to evaluate a possible influence of dietary oligosaccharides on parameters of calcium metabolism in preterm infants. The concentrations of calcium and phosphorus in plasma and in spot urine samples as well as the plasma activity of the alkaline phosphatase were measured in preterm infants fed either a standard formula (n = 15) or a formula supplemented with dietary oligosaccharides (n = 15) at the end of a 4-wk feeding period.
Conclusions: There was no influence of the different diets on the plasma concentration of calcium and phosphorus or on the plasma activity of alkaline phosphatase. In urine, there was a tendency towards higher calcium concentrations in the group fed the supplemented formula compared concentrations in the group fed the standard formula. The concentrations of phosphate were not significantly different and, as a consequence, there was a tendency towards a higher Ca/P molar ratio in the group fed the supplemented formula. The data indicate that the calcium absorption might be influenced by the dietary oligosaccharides. Thus, the possible effect of dietary oligosaccharides on calcium homeostasis should be included in the discussion concerning the consequences of the use of dietary oligosaccharides in preterm infant nutrition.