Newborns, especially those who are not breastfed and are particularly vulnerable to developing allergies, are often prescribed hypoallergenic milk formulas.
However, according to a French study published in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, the effectiveness of these formulas is yet to be proven.
The study by the French Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (National Institute of Agricultural Research) and the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (National Institute of Health and Medical Research), drew upon data from the nation-wide ELFE epidemiology study, the first in France to study children from birth to adulthood.
Hypoallergenic formula is commonly recommended on a prophylactic basis to newborns with at least one parent or sibling with a history of allergies.
These products are based on cow milk and hydrolysed into small parts to counter the potentially allergenic effects of dairy.
The researchers noted in a press release (in French) that very little data is available on the influence of these formulas on the prevention of allergies in practical conditions and paediatric associations in some countries have recently withdrawn their recommendations with regards to the formulas.
To determine in what measure the formulas are able to protect an infant, the teams of scientists studied 15,000 children from the ELFE study over the course of two years following their birth, to investigate possible links with the most common allergic afflictions such as eczema, wheezing, asthma and food allergies.
According to the researchers, these products did not demonstrate a greater efficacy in the reduction of allergies, in comparison to traditional formula.
In fact, the use of hypoallergenic formula in two-month-old children showing no signs of allergies at the time was associated, in the following years, with a higher risk of wheezing and food allergies.
The study’s authors underscore the need for further research.
These efforts should be supported by a new European regulation, to come into effect in 2021, which will require manufacturers to carry out clinical studies before being allowed to promote the allergy prevention effects of their products. – AFP Relaxnews