Energy Accretion in the Fetus

Fat has a high energy content (9.5kcalg-1) and a very high carbon content (approximately 78%). Thus, differences in fetal fat concentration among species lead to large differences in calculated energy accretion rates and carbon requirements of the fetal tissues for growth. The energy concentration of nonfat dry weight is fairly consistent across species and also within species at different developmental stages, indicating that the ratio of protein to nonprotein substrates in the tissues is relatively constant. Thus, energy accretion rate of any fetus can be estimated from the growth curve of the fetus in question and the changing fat and water concentrations.

Data for energy accretion and distribution in the human fetus are shown in Table 3. Because growth of fat and nonfat (protein plus other) tissues are metabolically linked through energy supply that is used for protein synthesis and the production of

Table 3 Calculation of the energy distribution in the term human infant
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