Donald W. Spady, David Schiff, Waldemar A. Szymanski

A Description of the Changing Body Composition of the Growing Premature Infant

  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

SummaryData from studies of two similar groups of premature infants were used to describe the changing body composition (BC) of a “typical” premature infant, 3 to 4 weeks old, gaining weight from 1,200 to 2,000 g and being fed its mother's expressed breast milk at a metabolizable energy intake of 93.6 kcal/kg/day. Serial measurements had been made of total body water (TBW), the extracellular fluid space (ECF), nitrogen balance, and gross energy balance in one group of premature (n = 17) infants and of total body potassium (TBK) in another group (n = 23); all infants studied weighed between 900 and 2,300 g. Equations relating TBW, ECF, and TBK to body weight were derived for estimating the content of these substances at body weights between 1,200 and 2,000 g. Protein content at 1,200 g body weight was estimated from measured TBK and N:K ratio (determined from the reference fetus) at this weight. Subsequent protein content was determined from average N accretion, determined from data of N balance, and carbohydrate and ash content were estimated from reference data. The remainder of the body weight was assumed to be fat. At l,200 g, the proposed BC of the premature infant is 72.1% water, 10.7% protein, 14.9% fat, 1.9% ash, and 0.4% carbohydrate. At 2,000 g comparable figures are 67.8% water, 11.6% protein, 18.2% fat, 1.9% ash, and 0.5% carbohydrate. The description also provides estimates of the body cell mass (BCM) and intracellular fluid (ICF), the relationship of K to the BCM and ICF, and the energy balance of the growing premature infant.

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