Gas production by feces of infants

Tianan Jiang, Fabrizis L. Suarez, Michael D. Levitt, Steven E. Nelson, Ekhard E. Ziegler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Intestinal gas is thought to be the cause abdominal discomfort in infants. Little is known about the type and amount of gas produced by the infant's colonic microflora and whether diet influences gas formation. Methods: Fresh stool specimens were collected from 10 breast-fed infants, 5 infants fed a soy-based formula, and 3 infants fed a milk-based formula at approximately 1, 2, and 3 months of age. Feces were incubated anaerobically for 4 hours at 37°C followed by quantitation of hydrogen (H2), methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), methanethiol (CH3SH), and dimethyl sulfide (CH3SCH3) in the headspace. Results: H2 was produced in greater amounts by breast-fed infants than by infants in either formula group, presumably the consequence of incomplete absorption of breast milk oligosaccharides. CH4 was produced in greater amounts by infants fed soy formula than by infants on other diets. CO2 was produced in similar amounts by infants in all feeding groups. Production of CH3SH was conspicuously low by feces of breast-fed infants and production of H2S was high by soy-formula-fed infants. CH3SCH3 was not detected. Only modest changes with age were observed and there was no relation between gas production and stool consistency, although stools were more likely to be malodorous when concentrations of H2S and/or CH3SH were high. Conclusions: Gas release by infant feces is strongly influenced by an infant's diet. Of particular interest are differences in production of the highly toxic sulfur gases, H2S and CH3SH, because of the role that these gases may play in certain intestinal disorders of infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-541
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition
Volume32
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 12 2001

Keywords

  • Breast-fed
  • Formula-fed
  • Gas production
  • Infant feces
  • Sulfur gases

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