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Taurine in neonatal nutrition – revisited
  1. W C Heird
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Heird
    Children’s Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, 1100 Bates Street, Houston, TX 77030, USA;

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Recommendations for no minimal taurine content of infant formulas should be reconsidered.

Taurine (2-aminoethanesulphonic acid) was isolated from ox (Bos taurus) bile in 18271 but, until the mid to late 1970s, it was thought to be merely a byproduct of sulphur amino acid metabolism. In 1975, it was noted that taurine deficiency in cats was associated with retinal degeneration, which was reversed by taurine supplementation.2 This observation coupled with the high concentration of taurine in the developing brain3 and mature retina4 raised suspicion that taurine may play an important role in brain development. This was supported by observations that brain taurine concentration of several species decreased during the weaning period3 and that taurine was the primary free amino acid in the milk of most mammals, including humans.5 Moreover, labelled taurine injected intraperitoneally into lactating rats was found in the milk of the dam as well as the brain of the suckling pups,6 suggesting that adequate intake of taurine was important for maintaining brain taurine content.

Shortly after the observation that taurine deficiency in cats resulted in retinal degeneration, evidence that taurine may be …

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