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Nutritional effect of including egg yolk in the weaning diet of breast-fed and formula-fed infants: a randomized controlled trial

01/06/2002

Background
Egg yolks can be a source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and iron but are often associated with adverse consequences on plasma cholesterol.

Objective
Our goal was to investigate the effect of consumption of 4 egg yolks/wk on infant DHA status and hemoglobin, ferritin, and plasma cholesterol concentrations. Secondary outcomes included plasma iron, transferrin, and transferrin saturation.

Design
This was a randomized controlled trial comparing no dietary intervention, consumption of 4 regular egg yolks/wk, and consumption of 4 n-3 fatty acid-enriched egg yolks/wk in breast-fed and formula-fed infants from 6 to 12 mo of age. Erythrocyte DHA concentrations, cholesterol, and iron status were assessed at 6 and 12 mo of age.

Results
Of the 82 breast-fed infants recruited, 23 of 28 (no intervention), 23 of 27 (regular eggs), and 24 of 27 (n-3 eggs) completed the trial. Of the 79 formula-fed infants enrolled, 23 of 27 (no intervention), 24 of 26 (regular eggs), and 20 of 26 (n-3 eggs) completed the trial. Erythrocyte DHA concentrations were 30-40% higher after the n-3 egg intervention than after treatment with regular eggs or no eggs in both breast-fed and formula-fed infants. Egg treatment had no significant effect on plasma cholesterol, hemoglobin, ferritin, and transferrin but did result in improvements in plasma iron and transferrin saturation compared with no egg treatment.

Conclusions
n-3 Fatty acid-enriched eggs may provide a means of increasing dietary DHA during the second 6 mo of life. Egg yolks may also be a useful source of iron during the weaning period and can be safely included in the weaning diet with no perturbations in plasma cholesterol.

Reference

Nutritional effect of including egg yolk in the weaning diet of breast-fed and formula-fed infants: a randomized controlled trial. Makrides M1, Hawkes JS, Neumann MA  et al. (2002) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 75(6):1084-92.

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