May 4, 1918


JAMA. 1918;70(18):1299-1300. doi:10.1001/jama.1918.02600180027012

Current ideas regarding the ability of the organism of the very young to digest starch have undergone considerable change in recent years. The supposed failure to detect starch-digesting enzymes in the saliva of the new-born was presumably responsible for the conclusion that the body possesses no mechanism for converting starch into absorbable derivatives at an early age. On such a deduction obviously rests the decision as to whether starch in any form can properly be included in the food of this period of life; in other words, the problem of the time when cereal feeding may become a physiologic propriety is here involved.

Careful examination of the saliva of the very young has, however, shown that amylase is by no means always entirely lacking; but even if it were, the possibilities for the digestive utilization of starch are not limited to the efficiency of the saliva. Beside the salivary glands,

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