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Is partially hydrolysed milk worth the money?

Partial Hydrolysed Milk sold in Singapore

Partially hydrolyzed milk formula, such as Enfalac HA and NAN HA, was recommended to my baby girl Marcie when her eczema was diagnosed by the paediatrician at one month old. It was a nightmare getting her to drink the less tasty milk formula and each bottle feed dropped from 85ml to 20ml! It seemed to improve when we made the switch from NAN HA to Enfalac HA but you never know if it was due to the milk or that the reflux or gassiness got better.

The irony is that when I brought Marcie for a skin prick test when she was seven month old, she isn’t actually allergic to cow’s milk! The paediatrician had assumed that Marcie’s eczema was caused by food allergy, when it was intrinsic. So, I began to google whether HA milk was worth the money and whether I should let my next baby have hydrolyzed milk from the start.

So, here’s what I’ve found on this:

1. Partially hydrolyzed milk is non-hypoallergenic

This really confused me since the label clearly stated hypoallergenic. However, it seems like unlike extensively hydrolysed milk (which is not available in supermarket), only part of the cow’s milk protein is broken into smaller pieces.

2. Partially hydrolysed milk is proven to reduce risk of food allergy

So far research suggests that partially hydrolysed milk reduced the risk of food allergy, but it is not recommended for babies which has a firm food allergy. That is, if your child is already tested allergic to milk, giving partially hydrolysed milk can still give rise to allergic reaction.

3. Everyone says the best is breast milk

Naturally, it is cited on all labels that WHO recommends breast feeding for first six months. Problem is, parents like you and I, who are already stressed out with dealing with babies with eczema are unlikely to have the rest or the time to drink fluid or have proper nutrition, to produce enough breast milk! Easy to say, but we all know the effort required to produce breast milk.

I think, given that eczema is hereditary and to spare myself from the trauma of switching baby’s formula from a normal sweeter one to a partially hydrolysed one (should my next baby also has eczema), I would just start off him or her with HA milk.

Update: I’ve interviewed nutritionist Judy Converse on partially hydrolyzed milk about 2 years from this post (time flies!) and click here to read her explanation. Also check out this post in 2015 that compiled the significant studies on partially hydrolysed milk’s preventive effect for eczema high-risk infants.

8 replies on “Is partially hydrolysed milk worth the money?”

My baby too, is having mild eczema and the doctor asked us to change his milk to hypoallergenic milk (we are using Nestle NAN H.A, by the way). But the doctor did not explained whether my baby is allergic/intolerant to cow’s milk protein or not (also my bad that I did not raise this question). How is this different from lactose intolerance? I also wanted to know so that I can avoid certain food which may contain milk protein IF he is really allergic to those. But, I am really confused. Any thoughts?

Hi Chloe!

When a young baby has eczema, and allergy testing is not accurate for those below 6 months, the pd will usually recommend switching milk as it is not only food source. Also cow’s milk is a common food allergen for young children, although food allergy itself may not be the most common for all kids.

If your baby is drinking HA milk fine, then stick with it 🙂 Nutritionally, I think it is not different from other cow’s milk.

Allergy and intolerance are different issues, allergy involving the immune system and intolerance does not.
Intolerance is relating to inability to digest the food, and results in wind, diarrhea.. not rashes. And not common for young children.

Other protein similar to cow’s milk is goat milk. Some kids who are allergic to cow’s milk is also allergic to soy. Since solid food is from 6 months old which also ties in with the time you can bring your baby to allergy test, you may want to consider a skin prick test to be ‘clearer’ about whether there’s really an allergy to cow’s milk.

Hope above helps, take care!

“A study led by King’s College London (KCL), published in the British Journal of Dermatology (BJD) has concluded that there is no clear evidence that prolonged, exclusive breastfeeding prevents the development of eczema.” I feel much better now…

Hi Pratibha, thanks for dropping by my blog. Hope your daughter’s eczema is better now, take care and look forward to hearing from you 🙂

Shanghai Jiaotong University did a study and found few infants had eczema and others had reduced severity after drinking partially hydrolysed milk for first 6 months. So, at least all the efforts to get my baby to drink it after she was diagnosed with eczema at 1 month old wasn’t money and EFFORTS down the drain!

Just attended a play group organized by on 24 August 2011 at The Playhouse (7 Rochester Park) and during the talk, Prof Hugo Van Bever answered my question that partially hydrolysed milk will not alter the allergic profile of the child, thus not proven to reduce chances of eczema/allergy developing.

Your sharing will help others!