Role of Protein and Amino Acids in Infant and Young Child Nutrition: Protein and Amino Acid Needs and Relationship with Child Growth

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2015:61 Suppl:S192-4. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.61.S192.


Over a third of all deaths of children under the age of five are linked to undernutrition. At a 90% coverage level, a core group of ten interventions inclusive of infant and young child nutrition could save one million lives of children under 5 y of age (15% of all deaths) (Lancet 2013). The infant and young child nutrition package alone could save over 220,000 lives in children under 5 y of age. High quality proteins (e.g. milk) in complementary, supplementary and rehabilitation food products have been found to be effective for good growth. Individual amino acids such as lysine and arginine have been found to be factors linked to growth hormone release in young children via the somatotropic axis and high intakes are inversely associated with fat mass index in pre-pubertal lean girls. Protein intake in early life is positively associated with height and weight at 10 y of age. This paper will focus on examining the role of protein and amino acids in infant and young child nutrition by examining protein and amino acid needs in early life and the subsequent relationship with stunting.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / administration & dosage
  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Amino Acids / therapeutic use
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / etiology
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / prevention & control
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism*
  • Dietary Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Growth
  • Growth Disorders / etiology
  • Growth Disorders / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Malnutrition* / etiology
  • Malnutrition* / prevention & control
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Nutritional Status*


  • Amino Acids
  • Dietary Proteins