Benjamin Caballero, Noel W. Solomons, Benjamin Torun, Oscar Pineda

Calcium Metabolism in Children Recovering from Severe Protein‐Energy Malnutrition

  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

SummaryTwenty preschool children with severe edematous protein‐energy malnutrition (PEM) were studied during the first 45 days of recovery. All children received 4 g/kg/day of protein and 150 kcal/kg/day of energy from a milk‐based recovery formula, providing 130–140 mg/kg/ day of calcium (Ca). Children were randomized to two treatment groups, one receiving intact milk formula and the other a lactose‐free preparation. Both groups showed a high efficiency of intestinal calcium absorption, sustained even after the normalization of weight for height and lean body mass. The presence or absence of lactose in the diet did not affect intestinal calcium absorption, and increased stool volume in the early period of recovery in the children receiving intact milk was not associated with higher fecal Ca losses. Urinary Ca excretion was within the range reported for healthy children under a normal diet. These results suggest that therapeutic amounts of calcium should be delivered to children with PEM well beyond the normalization of body weight and lean body mass.

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