Hydrolysed baby milk which claims to reduce or prevent allergies simply doesn’t work, say researchers.

Manufacturers have previously claimed that the special baby formula can reduce the likelihood of high-risk babies from developing allergies and eczema.

However, new research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) earlier this month, has found that hydrolysed formula is no more effective than standard formula milk.

The study looked at 37 different investigations into hydrolysed baby milk. It found no evidence that the milk reduced the chances of infants developing allergic conditions.

Change needed to baby feeding guidelines

Experts hope that the new evidence will encourage medical bodies to change the advice given to parents whose children are a risk from allergies. Such a change would potentially save families money by removing the cost of buying more expensive ‘hypoallergenic’ formula brands.

Current baby feeding guidelines in Europe, North America, and Australasia recommend hydrolysed cows’ milk formula to prevent such conditions developing during the first months of a baby’s life.

Hydrolysed baby milk is made by using a heat treatment to break down the milk proteins.

This new research goes against early suggestions that the specially treated formula could benefit high-risk infants.

A 2006 review claimed that giving babies hydrolysed formula may help prevent milk allergies.

The latest research debunks this claim, which had been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Bad science unmasked

The most recent research also points out that past studies may have been unfairly influenced by sponsorship from the formula industry.

In a related article published in the BMJ, another team of researchers said: “Advice from medical personnel and mothers’ perceptions of breast feeding can be altered by advocacy for particular types of formula within infant feeding guidelines.

“Secondly, endorsing hydrolysed formulas as an effective means to prevent allergies undermines attempts to conduct further more robust and definitive research on this issue.

“Finally, accepting that a particular formula prevents allergy based on poor quality evidence hinders further efforts by formula producers to improve their products.”