HYPOALLERGENIC 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.
* 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), http://www.dha-allergien.de Stiftung aha! Allergiezentrum Schweiz (Swiss Allergy Centre), http://www.aha.ch