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The Sciences

NCBI ROFL: And you think your job is bad...

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Gas production by feces of infants. "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 degrees C followed by quantitation of hydrogen (H2), methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), methanethiol (CH3SH), and dimethyl sulfide (CH3SCH3) in the head-space. 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."

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Photo: flickr/Amy L. Riddle

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