The relationships between nutrition, metabolic response, early growth and later body weight have been investigated in human studies. The aim of this follow-up study was to assess the long-term effect of infant feeding on growth and to study whether the infant metabolome at the age of 4 months might predict anthropometry at 4 years of age. The Belgrade-Munich infant milk trial (BeMIM) was a randomized controlled trial in which healthy term infants received either a protein-reduced infant formula (1.89 g protein/100 kcal) containing alpha-lactalbumin enriched whey and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA), or a standard formula (2.2 g protein/100 kcal) without LC-PUFA, focusing on safety and suitability. Non-randomized breastfed infants were used as a reference group. Of the 259 infants that completed the BeMIM study at the age of 4 months (anthropometry assessment and blood sampling), 187 children participated in a follow-up visit at 4 years of age. Anthropometry including weight, standing height, head circumference, and percent body fat was determined using skinfolds (triceps, subscapular) and bioelectrical impedance analysis. Plasma metabolite concentration, collected in samples at the age of 4 months, was measured using flow-injection tandem mass spectrometry. A linear regression model was applied to estimate the associations between each metabolite and growth with metabolites as an independent variable. At 4 years of age, there were no significant group differences in anthropometry and body composition between formula groups. Six metabolites (Asn, Lys, Met, Phe, Trp, Tyr) measured at 4 months of age were significantly associated with changes in weight-for-age z-score between 1 to 4 months of age and BMI-for-age z-score (Tyr only), after adjustment for feeding group. No correlation was found between measured metabolites and long-term growth (up to 4 years of age). No long-term effects of early growth patterns were shown on anthropometry at 4 years of age. The composition of infant formula influences the metabolic profile and early growth, while long-term programming effects were not observed in this study.
Fleddermann, M., Demmelmair, H., Hellmuth, C., Grote, V., Trisic, B., Nikolic, T., & Koletzko, B. (2018). Association of infant formula composition and anthropometry at 4 years: Follow-up of a randomized controlled trial (BeMIM study). PLoS ONE, 13(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0199859