Allergy PreventionMore and more people develop their first allergy during infancy. The catalyst is ­often a harmless vegetable or animal protein yet those affected may suffer from allergies throughout their whole lives. This cycle might be broken by breastfeeding or using hypoallergenic (HA) infant formula.


As a baby, Lena* suf­fered from stom­ach ache and wind. The lit­tle girl cried fre­quently and for long pe­ri­ods. Her help­less par­ents would spend hours lov­ingly rock­ing their child to sleep. After a few months the wind was gone. But it was re­placed by an itchy rash all over her body, oth­er­wise known as neu­ro­der­mati­tis. Lena’s im­mune sys­tem seemed to be out of bal­ance and the root of the prob­lem ap­peared to be a cow milk pro­tein. Lena suf­fered from chronic neuroder­matitis for ten years – with vary­ing lev­els of sever­ity. At the age of 14, the young girl had a re­ac­tion to birch and hazel pollen. Two years later the pollen ­allergy de­vel­oped into a food al­lergy with hives.

Lena’s ex­pe­ri­ence is shared by many chil­dren. An in­ter­na­tional study shows that 17 per cent of all one to two year olds suf­fer from neu­ro­der­mati­tis, which often de­vel­ops into a suc­ces­sion of al­ler­gies, known as an “al­ler­gic march”. Symp­to­matic of this phe­nom­e­non is the child’s first de­vel­op­ment of neu­ro­der­mati­tis, fre­quently brought on by an­i­mal or veg­etable pro­teins such as cow’s milk, hen’s eggs and wheat. This might be be­cause these pro­teins are the first for­eign anti­gens that an in­fant or small child in­gests. This is fre­quently fol­lowed in pu­berty by al­ler­gic asthma or hay fever and then later, in adult life, by an in­sect venom al­lergy. How­ever, sci­en­tific stud­ies show that this se­quence of ill­nesses only oc­curs in 50 per cent of cases. It did not apply to Lena. She was lucky and did not suf­fer from in­sect venom al­ler­gies.

Lena is cur­rently free of all symp­toms and her own daugh­ter has been healthy for a num­ber of years. This might be be­cause Lena con­sciously opted for pre­ven­tive mea­sures. She breast­fed her child for six months and then moved on to hy­poal­ler­genic for­mula on her doc­tor’s ad­vice. Lena was also cau­tious when start­ing with solids. She in­tro­duced new foods at three to four day in­ter­vals to mon­i­tor any re­ac­tions. It’s pos­si­ble that these pre­cau­tions helped Lena to break her daugh­ter’s own al­ler­gic cycle."

Hered­i­tary fac­tors and changed en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions in­flu­ence the im­mune sys­tem

Sci­en­tists are still un­sure why the im­mune sys­tem some­times has a strong re­ac­tion to harm­less al­ler­gens, de­fend­ing it­self against them. Ex­perts sus­pect that hered­i­tary fac­tors play a role in the dis­po­si­tion to­wards al­ler­gies as the risk of suf­fer­ing from an al­lergy is very un­evenly dis­trib­uted. If both par­ents are healthy the risk is five to fif­teen per cent. If both par­ents are prone to al­ler­gies the risk rises to 80 per cent.

Over the past 20 years, a grow­ing pat­tern has emerged where chil­dren, par­tic­u­larly those from the industri­al­ised na­tions, show greater sen­si­tiv­ity to al­lergy, even where there is no fam­ily his­tory of the prob­lem. A quar­ter of the Swiss pop­u­la­tion now suf­fers from al­ler­gies – and it is a grow­ing trend. Nu­tri­tional spe­cial­ists now sus­pect that im­prove­ments in hy­giene are hav­ing a neg­a­tive ef­fect on our re­sis­tance to al­lergy. If cer­tain bac­te­ria are ab­sent in an en­vi­ron­ment that is too clean, our im­mune sys­tem may feel un­der­used due to a lack of “nat­ural en­e­mies”. It at­tacks harm­less en­vi­ron­men­tal al­ler­gens for no ap­par­ent rea­son. Sci­en­tists are now try­ing to es­tab­lish which bac­te­ria cause a re­ac­tion in the im­mune sys­tem.

Breast­feed­ing or hy­poal­ler­genic in­fant for­mula might break the cycle of the ‘al­ler­gic march’ to some ex­tent.

In­fants more sus­cep­ti­ble to al­ler­gens than adults

A child’s im­mune and di­ges­tive sys­tem plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in food al­ler­gies. The im­mune sys­tem is still im­ma­ture at birth. It has to de­velop and learn to dis­tin­guish be­tween harm­less and life-threat­en­ing sub­stances. Ma­ter­nal al­ler­gens help in this process. The in­fant ab­sorbs a min­i­mum amount of al­ler­gens via breast milk. This helps the di­ges­tive sys­tem to de­velop tol­er­ance for harm­less sub­stances. A child’s in­testi­nal wall is also vul­ner­a­ble to al­ler­gens. It is more porous in the first 24 months than in later life. Up to this point, in­fants and small chil­dren also in­gest larger pro­tein mol­e­cules that have not yet been bro­ken down through the in­testi­nal mu­cosa. This re­sults in an in­creased risk of al­lergy from pro­tein-rich foods such as cow’s milk, hen’s eggs or wheat, which is why breast­feed­ing is the best form of al­lergy pro­tec­tion, at least in the first six months of life.

HA in­fant for­mula helps re­duce al­lergy risk

But what is the so­lu­tion if the in­fant has a fam­ily his­tory of al­ler­gic re­ac­tion and the mother is ei­ther un­able or un­will­ing to con­tinue breast­feed­ing? Or if the in­fant is one of the two to three per cent of chil­dren who have a neg­a­tive re­ac­tion to cow’s milk.

HA in­fant and fol­low-on for­mula can have a pre­ven­tive ef­fect with re­gard to food al­ler­gies. They con­sist of split, eas­ily-di­gestible larger and smaller milk pro­tein com­po­nents, in con­trast to the con­ven­tional in­fant and fol­low-on for­mu­las, which con­tain whole milk pro­teins. The split milk pro­tein com­po­nents con­tained in the HA in­fant for­mula trick the in­fant’s im­mune sys­tem. It no longer iden­ti­fies the in­di­vid­ual com­po­nents as a po­ten­tial threat. This makes it pos­si­ble for chil­dren to avoid the typ­i­cal al­lergy pro­gres­sion as they grow up, al­low­ing their im­mune sys­tems to de­velop with­out inter­ference. HA milk pro­duced by HOCHDORF Swiss Nu­tri­tion also con­tain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty ­acids as well as pre­bi­otics and nu­cleotides: all sub­stances that are im­por­tant for the ideal de­vel­op­ment ­of the im­mune and di­ges­tive sys­tem.

Pro­duc­ing good HA in­fant for­mula is dif­fi­cult

It is hard to pro­duce an HA for­mula that tastes good and has the ideal con­sis­tency. It re­quires ex­per­tise, med­ical know-how and an ex­pe­ri­enced touch. The in­fant for­mula can be­come bit­ter if the milk pro­teins are split in­ap­pro­pri­ately, for in­stance. The milk pro­teins that are split into par­ti­cles can be poorly dis­trib­uted in the for­mula due to their un­even mol­e­c­u­lar weight, which neg­a­tively im­pacts the taste. HOCHDORF’s HA for­mula does not have this prob­lem. The con­stituents are ide­ally dis­trib­uted; the HA in­fant for­mula is there­fore just as creamy as con­ven­tional in­fant for­mula. Reg­u­lar blind tast­ings con­firm: HOCHDORF’s HA in­fant for­mula is pop­u­lar with chil­dren!

So you can give any in­fant HA for­mula with­out a sec­ond thought. To en­sure the best pos­si­ble al­lergy ­therapy and pre­vent the al­ler­gic march, as in the case of Lena’s daugh­ter how­ever, it is still ad­vis­able to ­consult a doc­tor or al­ler­gist first.

 Further Information


* Note: Names have been changed

Sources Selene K. Bantz, Zhou Zhu, Tao Zheng (2014): Progression from Atopic Dermatitis to Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma M. V. Kopp, H. Ott (2014): Genetik, Epidemiologie und Prävention (Genetics, Epidemiology and Prevention) Deutsche Haut- und Allergiehilfe e.V. (German Skin and Allergy Support), Stiftung aha! Allergiezentrum Schweiz (Swiss Allergy Centre),

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