Czerkies LA, Kineman BD, Cohen SS, Reichert H, Carvalho RS. 2018. A pooled analysis of growth and tolerance of infants exclusively fed partially hydrolyzed whey or intact protein-based infant formulas. Int J Pediat Article ID 4969576.
Background. For infants who are partially or exclusively fed infant formula, many options exist with compositional differences between formulas making choices difficult for caregivers and healthcare professionals. The protein in routine infant formulas differs by the source, fraction of cow’s milk protein used, and degree of hydrolysis. All commercially available regulated infant formulas support growth and development, but different stool patterns have been observed based on formula composition. A pooled analysis of seven clinical trials was conducted to examine growth, stool consistency, and stool frequency of infants fed an intact cow’s milk-based formula (CMF) or a partially hydrolyzed whey formula (PHF-W) from a single manufacturer. Methods. Individual subject data from seven infant formula growth studies (3 CMF, 4 PHF-W) were pooled and analyzed. All studies included healthy, full-term, formula-fed infants enrolled at 14 days of age with outcomes assessed over 4 months. Gains in weight and length to 4 months were analyzed using linear regression accounting for clustering within study. Outcomes of caregiver-reported stool consistency and frequency were analyzed using a longitudinal multinomial model. Results. Data from 511 infants were included (197 CMF, 314 PHF-W). There were no differences in weight gain between groups. There was no difference in length gain in girls fed PHF-W while boys fed PHF-W had a significant difference of +0.016 cm/month compared to boys fed CMF. Infants fed PHF-W had a significantly higher probability of soft and lower probability of hard stools as compared to infants fed CMF at each time point (p<0.001). Stool frequency was similar between groups. Conclusions. Infants fed CMF and PHF-W exhibit appropriate growth with comparable gains in weight and length through 4 months. More soft and fewer hard stools are observed in infants fed PHF-W compared to CMF. This difference could help to inform decision-making when choosing an infant formula.