Impact of palm olein in infant formulas on stool consistency and frequency: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials
Background: Meta-analysis studies have documented that palm olein (PALM) predominant formulas reduce calcium and fat absorption, and bone mineralization in infants, but none have been documented for stool consistency and frequency.
Objective: The study objective was to conduct a meta-analysis of published randomized clinical trials (RCTs) on the effect of PALM-based formulas on stool consistency and frequency in infants.
Design: A literature search was conducted in BIOSIS Previews®, Embase®, Embase® Alert, MEDLINE® and Cochrane databases. PALM-based RCTs with available stool outcomes were selected and meta-analyzed. Mean rank stool consistency (MRSC, primary outcome) and stool frequency (secondary outcome) were compared between infants fed PALM-based and PALM-free formulas (NoPALM), using random effects model.
Results: Nine out of identified16 studies were meta-analyzed. The mean MRSC (scale of 1 = watery to 5 = hard) in the NoPALM-fed infants was lower (softer stools) compared to the PALM-fed infants (mean difference ‒0.355, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] of ‒0.472 to ‒0.239, p < 0.001). Difference for stool frequency was not significant ( p = 0.613).
Conclusion: Meta-analysis of RCTs indicated that NoPALM-fed infants have significantly softer stools but similar stool frequencies versus PALM-fed infants, despite differences in study types and design. Future meta-analysis could benefit from including comparison with human milk-fed infants.