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Originally published June 2 2007

Hydrolyzed milk proteins found to actually decrease eczema in infants

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

Infant formulas containing proteins that have been hydrolyzed have been found to decrease a child's risk of developing eczema by at least 33 percent compared with formulas containing unprocessed milk proteins, according to a 3-year German study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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What you need to know - Conventional View

• Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is the term applied to a persistent or recurring skin rash. Symptoms include skin redness, itching and dryness, and sometimes even blistering, cracking, crusting, flaking, oozing or bleeding. It is one of the first signs of allergies in early life.

• The American Academy of Dermatologists estimates that 10 to 20 percent of infants are affected by eczema, but that half of them will outgrow it by age 15.

• Researchers studied 2,252 newborns with a history of allergy in their families and assigned them one of four different infant formulas, containing either cow's milk, partially hydrolyzed whey, extensively hydrolyzed whey, or extensively hydrolyzed casein.

• Cow's milk proteins are the most common infant allergen, so researchers hypothesized that if the proteins were further broken down, they would be less likely to cause allergic reactions.

• Infants fed the partially hydrolyzed whey or the extensively hydrolyzed casein had a 48 and 47 percent lower occurrence of eczema, respectively. Infants fed the extensively hydrolyzed casein formula had a 33 percent lower incidence of eczema. These figures were calculated in comparison with the unmodified cow's milk formula.

• Quote: "The preventive effects developed in the first year and persisted into the third year, indicating real disease reduction rather than postponement of disease onset." -Lead Author Andrea Von Berg

Bottom line

• Infant formulas containing broken down milk proteins are less likely to cause allergic reactions in infants than those containing unmodified milk proteins.

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