Plasma concentrations of copper and zinc and leucocyte concentrations of zinc were measured in mothers during later pregnancy, at delivery, and 8-10 weeks after birth, and plasma concentrations of copper and zinc were measured in their infants at delivery and 8-10 weeks after birth. The 145 infants were either breast fed or fed one of two milk formulas supplying copper at different concentrations. None of the infants achieved the minimum copper intakes recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). At 2 months of age there were no major differences in growth or health detected in infants fed the different copper intakes. Infant birth weight correlated well with the ratio of maternal venous plasma zinc:maternal leucocyte zinc at delivery. Maternal venous plasma copper and zinc concentrations at birth correlated with umbilical venous plasma copper and zinc concentrations. Infants fed the higher copper content formulas had a low mean plasma zinc concentration without a significant increase in the mean plasma copper concentration. The present WHO recommendations regarding minimum copper intakes for infants fed formulas cannot be achieved with currently available formulas and are probably wrong.
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