A cohort of 174 healthy full-term Chinese infants was followed up regularly for 2 years for their weight, length, head circumference, triceps and subscapular skinfold thickness, and their feeding practice. The majority of babies (92% at 2 months) were bottle fed with full strength infant formula. The energy intake over the first year of life was comparable with that of healthy Caucasian infants. The mean protein intake during the weaning period exceeded fourfold that of the WHO recommendation. At 2 years, infants were -0.6 standard deviation score (SDS) lighter and -0.4 SDS shorter than the National Centre for Health Statistics (NCHS) reference.
PIP: The first in-depth study of nutrition and its impact upon growth in young Chinese children in Hong Kong was conducted in the 1960s and suggested that significant undernutrition of energy, protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin D with associated poor physical growth was common. Environmental and socioeconomic conditions in Hong Kong, however, have improved dramatically since the 1960s, with infant mortality falling from 42/1000 in 1960 to 8.5/1000 in 1985. The authors present findings from a 1984 study of infant practices and related growth among infants in Hong Kong. The weight, length, head circumference, triceps, subscapular skinfold thickness, and feeding practices of a cohort of 174 healthy full-term Chinese infants were regularly followed for two years. 92% at two months were bottle fed with full-strength infant formula, energy intake over the first year of life was comparable with that of healthy Caucasian infants, and mean protein intake during the weaning period exceeded four times that recommended by the World Health Organization. At two years, however, infants were 0.6 standard deviation score (SDS) lighter and 0.4 SDS shorter than the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reference. Indeed, Hong Kong Chinese infants during the mid-1980s enjoyed a diet of energy and protein sufficient for their required growth. The authors believe that the smaller size of such healthy Asiatic children reflects genetic rather than environmental influences and question whether the NCHS references or any references based largely upon Caucasian populations are appropriate for young Chinese children.