Urinary and serum urea as indicators of protein metabolism in very low birthweight infants fed varying human milk protein intakes

Acta Paediatr Scand. 1990 Aug-Sep;79(8-9):737-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1990.tb11548.x.


Urea concentrations in serum and urine were measured in 28 growing, very low birth weight, appropriate-for-gestational age infants fed varying human milk protein intakes (range 1.7 to 3.9 g/kg/day). We found a high correlation between serum urea values at the end of the study and mean protein intake (rs = 0.85, p less than 0.001) and between urinary urea concentrations in eight-hour urine collections and protein intake (rs = 0.81, p less than 0.001). All serum and urine urea values were below 1.6 and 18 mmol/l, respectively, at protein intakes less than 3 g/kg/day. Higher protein intakes caused higher serum and urinary urea concentrations. We also found a strong correlation between the individual serum and urinary urea values at the end of the study (rs = 0.90, p less than 0.001). The presented data are consistent with the growth data previously reported and indicate that inadequate or excessive protein intakes can be detected by measurement of urea concentrations in serum and/or urine. If urine urea samples alone can be used for estimating optimal protein intake, painful blood sampling procedures could be obviated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / blood
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / metabolism*
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / urine
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Milk Proteins / metabolism*
  • Milk, Human / metabolism
  • Urea / analysis*
  • Urea / blood
  • Urea / urine


  • Milk Proteins
  • Urea