Healthline: Infants needed for metabolism study

Healthline: Infants needed for metabolism study
Published: Mar. 8, 2016 at 9:09 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2016 at 3:00 AM CST
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(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Could the key to controlling your metabolism lie in the first few weeks of your life? A new study from Pennington Biomedical Research Center hopes to answer that question.

Everything is brand new to little Charles James. He is only a few months old and already contributing to science.

"For the first time we're going to be able to measure metabolism in babies," Dr. Leanne Redman said referring to the BabyEE Pilot Study.

James recently spent three hours in a metabolic chamber specifically designed for infants. The large plastic enclosure measures the exact amount of oxygen a baby breathes in and the how much carbon dioxide they exhale. It also measures how the newborn eats a bottle of food, including the amount of calories, fat and carbohydrate burned.

"The thought is that what happens very early in life sets what we call the 'metabolic fingerprint' for how you'll be for the rest of your life," Redman explained. "We know that there's a critical period in our life when we can actually change the metabolic fingerprint, and that is from birth to two years of age."

Researchers hope their results will better explain how to change that fingerprint by pinpointing what new mothers should eat, and how much and how often to feed their babies.

"I always wondered why they are all so different," Amy James said of her four children. "My daughter and my 2-year-old seem to be the same, and then my 3-year-old and the baby seem to have the same body."

James was eager to get Charles into the study for a free analysis of his metabolism. Redman said Pennington's infant metabolic chamber is the only one known to be in use around the world.

"Really it's a brand new discovery. There's so much that's not known about a baby's metabolism very early in life," she said.

There are no risks from spending time in the chamber. Babies in the study are needed for two visits that last three to four hours each. Participants can earn up to $125 in compensation.

The study needs 40 healthy babies between one and three months of age. They must be fed only breast milk and/or infant formula.

CLICK HERE for more information on the BabyEE Pilot Study. Those with questions can call 225-763-2801 or email

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