Different Growth Patterns Persist at 24 Months of Age in Formula-Fed Infants Randomized to Consume a Meat- or Dairy-Based Complementary Diet from 5 to 12 Months of Age

J Pediatr. 2019 Mar:206:78-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.10.020. Epub 2018 Nov 6.


Objective: To test the long-term effect on growth status at 24 months of age in formula-fed infants who were randomized to consume a meat- or dairy-based complementary diet from 5 to 12 months of age.

Study design: Observational assessments, including anthropometric, dietary, and blood biomarkers, were conducted at 24 months of age, 1 year after the intervention ended.

Results: The retention rate at 24 months of age was 84% for the meat group and 81% for the dairy group. Mean (±SD) protein intakes at 24 months of age were 4.1 ± 1.2 and 4.0 ± 1.1 g/kmeat (n = 27) and dairy (n = 26) groups, respectively, and comparable with the estimates of US population intake. At 24 months of age, weight-for-age z score did not differ significantly between groups and was similar to that at 12 months. Length-for-age z score remained significantly higher in the meat group compared with the dairy group, and the average length was 1.9 cm greater in the meat group. Weight-for-length z score also did not differ significantly between groups. Insulin-like growth factor 1 significantly increased from 12 to 24 months of age in both groups, but insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 3 and blood urea nitrogen did not change significantly from 12 to 24 months of age and were comparable between groups.

Conclusions: The protein source-induced distinctive growth patterns observed during infancy persisted at 24 months of age, suggesting a potential long-term impact of early protein quality on growth trajectories in formula-fed infants.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02142647.

Keywords: follow-up; growth; infant; protein source.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthropometry
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Birth Weight
  • Body Weight
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dairy Products*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula*
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Male
  • Meat*
  • Milk


  • Biomarkers
  • Dietary Proteins

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02142647