The relation between rate of weight gain and diet-dependent changes in biochemistry, physiology and behavior of 142 preterm infants (mean birthweight 1364 g) fed varied protein and energy intakes was evaluated at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York. Rapidly growing infants had increased heart rates, respiratory rates, active sleep time, and decreased spectral edge EEG frequencies compared to slow growers. The changes in autonomic responses related to diet and rapid growth were explained by an hypothesis of shifts in the balance of catecholamine and serotonergic neurotransmitter systems. [1]

COMMENT. This study of diet and behavior in LBW infants was stimulated by reports of the influence of infant diets on later adult morbidity. The authors were particularly interested in early diet in relation to adult diseases such as hypertension. The findings might also apply to nervous system development and a possible diet related mechanism of attention deficit and learning disorders. The incidence of subsequent ADHD among these infants would be of interest.