Baby formula may not help allergies

Special formulas claim to help stop allergies, but research still says breastfeeding is best.

The breastfeeding versus formula feeding debate wages on. Now a new study says formulas once thought to reduce allergic or autoimmune disorders in babies are not effective. While formula claims have taken a hit, breastfeeding remains the best option for babies at high risk of developing these conditions.

The formulas in question use a process called hydrolyzing, which breaks down the milk proteins into smaller pieces that are hypoallergenic, making them unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.

Researchers at the Imperial College London, where the study took place, suggest revising current recommendations to use hydrolyzed formula in place of standard cows’ milk formula to prevent allergies in infants at high risk.

While not every mom is able to breastfeed for various reasons, this study gives stronger weight to the practice.

For more on breastfeeding, including a schedule of free breastfeeding classes, visit

“Human milk is ever-changing to meet the infant’s unique needs; it contains living cells that help prevent food allergies and asthma,” said Elizabeth Doyle, M.D., director of lactation services for Norton Healthcare. “These cells also fight infections, heal injuries and work to decrease the incidence of ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea/vomiting, leukemia, diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome, just to name a few.”

Sadly, less than one-third of babies in Kentucky are breastfed past 3 months of age. This new research suggests that moms need even more education about the health benefits of breastfeeding and encouragement to make breastfeeding successful.

“As a community, we must support mothers who are making excellent health choices for their babies when they choose to breastfeed,” Dr. Doyle said.

The hospital also provides support through its Baby Bistro & Boutique, a shop that sells and rents breast pumps and parts, breastfeeding bras, breastfeeding pillows and many other breastfeeding supplies and support items.

Norton Healthcare Lactation Centers and Services, a part of Norton Women’s Care, include one-on-one assistance with breastfeeding issues, including pumping and back-to-work consultations, individual prenatal consultations to prepare an expectant mother for breastfeeding and assistance with special needs infants, multiples and babies having difficulty with weight gain. Specialists also have the capability to perform an analysis to determine the fat and caloric content in breast milk.

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