Background levels of carbon-13 reduced in breath and stool by new infant formula. Academic Article uri icon


  • Studies of the absorption and bioavailability of nutrients naturally enriched with 13C require accurate measurements of small increases of 13C in respiratory CO2 and stool carbon. The sensitivity of these measurements would be increased if the natural background of 13C in these excreta were reduced. We have developed a 13C-depleted infant formula based on lactose, whey, and casein from New Zealand cows that consume only C3 vegetation naturally low in 13C. This formula, designated CNRC3, was produced by a commercial infant formula manufacturer and was comparable with a 60:40 whey/casein product. To test the ability of the formula to reduce baseline levels of 13C in infant excreta, 10 formula-fed infants 28-60 days old and free of metabolic disorders were enrolled in the 9-day study. Two stool samples were collected daily. Infants received their usual formula on days 1 and 2 and were switched to CNRC3 formula for days 3-9. On days 2 and 9, seven breath samples were collected at 30-min intervals with a face mask. Breath and stool samples were analyzed for 13C content by gas isotope ratio mass spectrometry. Infants consuming their commercial formula had breath delta 13C values of -21.1 +/- 0.6% over the 3-h collection period; stool values were -22.9 +/- 0.4%. After 7 days on the CNRC3 formula, delta 13C values of breath declined by 5.6% to -26.7 +/- 0.7%; stool values declined by 3.0% to -25.6 +/- 0.5%. The reduced background of 13C achieved by the CNRC3 formula can improve resolution of excess 13C from naturally enriched substrates in infant breath by approximately 50% and in stool by approximately 30%.

published proceedings

  • J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr

author list (cited authors)

  • Boutton, T. W., Hopkinson, J. M., Benton, D. A., & Klein, P. D.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Boutton, TW||Hopkinson, JM||Benton, DA||Klein, PD

publication date

  • September 1988