Production of short chain fatty acids by the intestinal microflora during the first 2 years of human life

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1992 Nov;15(4):395-403. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199211000-00005.


We have followed the establishment of one group of intestinal microflora-associated characteristics, namely, the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), in 30 healthy children, by gas chromatography analysis of fecal samples taken at 0, 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, and 24 months of age. Acetic and propionic acids were the principal SCFAs at 1 and 3 months. Successively, the production of iso- and n-butyric, valeric, and caproic acids was established. At 2 years, the absolute amounts of all SCFAs with the exception of n-valeric acid had reached adult values. However, not all children had achieved a typically adult range of stool SCFAs by the end of the study. Both absolute and relative amounts of SCFAs were influenced by exposure to foods other than breast milk and exposure to antibiotic therapy. After standardization for exposure to foods other than breast milk, a positive age factor could be seen between 0 and 1 month of age for total amounts produced of SCFAs, acetic, propionic, and n-butyric acids. After this time, however, no clear age factor could be distinguished.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Enterococcus faecium / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Fatty Acids / biosynthesis*
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Fermentation
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Milk, Human


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Fatty Acids