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.