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October 2021

Arch Pediatr. 1997 Apr; 4(4): 373-82.

[Protein requirements of healthy infants and children. Comité de nutrition de la Société française de Pediatrie]


The protein requirements during infancy and childhood are the sum of both maintenance nitrogen needs and the amount of nitrogen required for growth. Exclusive breast feeding entirely meets these requirements, at least until 6 months of age, and the different approaches for estimating protein needs provide consistent values, which are strikingly steady for the first 12 months. From the mean protein requirement, it is possible to calculate the safe protein intake, eg, the amount of protein which should meet the requirements of every infant and child from 4 months to 3 years of age. Several expert committees concluded that the safe intake amounts to 15 g/d, a figure which now seems overestimated. In any case, the average intake of infants and toddlers is two to three fold higher than the safe protein intake in most developed countries. This holds true during later childhood and adolescence, the intakes exceeding the needs so much as to render pointless any discussion about amino acid requirements. Although the information about the long term effects of protein intakes in excess of the needs is scanty, the tight relationship between protein and fat intakes, particularly saturated ones, should not be overlooked and should prompt some caution when providing mothers with recommendations about feeding their infant.

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