The microflora and pH of gastric contents were determined in breast-fed and in bottle-fed normal infants, in well nourished infants with acute diarrhoea and in infants with chronic diarrhoea and protein-calorie malnutrition. The last group of infants was reevaluated after recovery from diarrhoea and protein-calorie malnutrition. A bactericidal pH effect below 2-5 was observed. Bottle-fed controls had low pH values and low bacterial concentrations, whereas infants with chronic diarrhoea and protein-calorie malnutrition had high pH values and bacterial overgrowth, essentially of Gram-negative bacilli. After recovery, the only remaining alteration was the frequent isolation of yeast-like fungi in low concentrations. Infants with acute diarrhoea, except for the isolation more frequently of yeast-like fungi, presented no alterations; this seems to indicate that pH alterations and Gram-negative bacilli overgrowth occurred during the evolution of the disease to a chronic state. Breast-fed normal infants had hydrogen-ion concentrations similar to those of the chronic diarrhoea group, but without Gram-negative bacilli overgrowth, suggesting that other factors, besides pH, regulate bacterial growth in the gastric contents of these groups of infants.
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