An analysis of volatiles in the headspace of the faeces of neonates

B De Lacy Costello, R Ewen, A K Ewer, C E Garner, C S J Probert, N M Ratcliffe, S Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


A gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GCMS) analysis of the headspace from the faeces of neonates was undertaken to record the volatiles associated with preterm babies on a neonatal unit. The compounds ethanol, acetone, 2-ethyl-1-hexanol, 3-methylbutanal, hexanal and 2,3-butanedione occurred with the highest frequency. The volatiles analysed were then compared to a previously published study of the volatiles from asymptomatic adult faeces. Fewer compounds were found in the neonatal faeces and virtually no sulfides were detected, in contrast to the adult samples where carbon disulfide, dimethyl disulfide and dimethyl sulfide were ubiquitous. In addition, 7 of the most abundant 15 volatile compounds were found to be aldehydes, while in contrast only 2, acetaldehyde and benzaldehyde, were present in the most abundant 15 compounds found in the headspace of adult faeces. 2-Ethyl-1-hexanol was considerably more abundant in the neonate stool compared to adult stool, and probably reflects high exposure to plastic materials containing plasticizers. The potential of disease diagnoses from the analysis of volatiles emitted from neonate faeces is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)037023
JournalJournal of Breath Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


Dive into the research topics of 'An analysis of volatiles in the headspace of the faeces of neonates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this