Breastfeeding Still the Best Baby Formula

Hypoallergenic formula does not aid in preventing allergies

(RxWiki News) Children's incidence of food allergies is on the rise. Labeling a baby formula as hypoallergenic is a fabulous marketing strategy, but it should deliver the goods as advertised.

Despite the advertising promise, a recent study shows there is no benefit to hypoallergenic formula as compared to a more conventional baby formula.

"Hypoallergenic baby formula may not fight off food allergies."

Adrian Lowe, a research fellow at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and the Centre for MEGA Epidemiology, the University of Melbourne reports that his findings indicate that hypoallergenic formula after breastfeeding does not work for preventing allergies such as childhood hay fever, asthma or eczema.

David Hill, F.R.A.C.P., a Senior Consultant Allergist at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute recommends continued breastfeeding for babies whose families have a history of allergies. 

The trial is one the largest to test the effectiveness of hypoallergenic baby formula. There were 620 infants enrolled and assessed to determine if using this specialty formula decreased the risk of allergy development through the age of 7.

Infants in the study were all initially breastfed. After breastfeeding, the babies received one of three formulas: Soy, cow's milk or the hypoallergenic formula. Skin prick tests for peanut, egg, milk, dust mite, rye grass and cat dander were conducted at 6, 12 and 24 months with an additional follow up at the ages of 6 or 7. The primary outcome was development of allergic manifestations (eczema and food reactions) measured 18 times in the first 2 years of life.

There was no evidence that infants allocated to the hypoallergenic formula or the soy formula were at a lower risk of allergic manifestations in infancy when compared to conventional formula. Additionally, there was no evidence indicating a reduced risk of skin prick test reactivation or allergies developed during childhood.

This study is published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Review Date: 
July 25, 2011