Zinc status and growth of Korean infants fed human milk, casein-based, or soy-based formula: three-year longitudinal study

  • Han, Young-Hee (Department of Food and Nutrition, Chungbuk National University) ;
  • Yon, Mi-Yong (Department of Food and Nutrition, Chungbuk National University) ;
  • Han, Heon-Seok (Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, Chungbuk National University) ;
  • Johnston, Kelley E. (Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham) ;
  • Tamura, Tsunenobu (Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham) ;
  • Hyun, Tai-Sun (Department of Food and Nutrition, Chungbuk National University)
  • Received : 2010.08.02
  • Accepted : 2011.01.20
  • Published : 2011.02.28


To evaluate the effect of feeding methods on growth and zinc nutritional status of infants early in life, we monitored from birth to 36 months in 51 infants who were exclusively fed human milk (HM, n=20), casein-based formula (CBF, n=12), or soy-based formula (SBF, n=19) during the first five months of life. Zinc status was assessed by analyzing serum zinc concentrations and zinc intakes. Zinc contents in HM and formulas were measured. Zinc intake was estimated by weighing infants before and after feeding in the HM group and by collecting formula-intake records in the CBF and SBF groups. After solid foods were introduced, all foods consumed were also included to estimate zinc intake. The growth of infants in all groups was similar to that established for normal Korean infants. Human milk zinc concentrations declined as lactation progressed. Zinc concentrations in all formulas tested in this study were higher than HM and were also higher than those claimed by the manufacturers. During the first twelve months, mean serum zinc concentrations of infants were similar in all groups, although infants in the HM group consistently had the lowest zinc intake among the groups, and the overall zinc intake in infants fed SBF was highest. This finding could be explained by the difference zinc bioavailability of HM and formulas. In conclusion, infants fed HM, CBF or SBF has normal growth up to three years of age, although HM contained the lowest zinc concentration followed by CBF, then SBF.


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