Infant formulas containing hydrolysed protein for prevention of allergic disease and food allergy.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 03 15; 3:CD003664.CD
Allergy is common and may be associated with foods, including cow's milk formula (CMF). Formulas containing hydrolysed proteins have been used to treat infants with allergy. However, it is unclear whether hydrolysed formulas can be advocated for prevention of allergy in infants.
To compare effects on allergy and food allergy when infants are fed a hydrolysed formula versus CMF or human breast milk. If hydrolysed formulas are effective, to determine what type of hydrolysed formula is most effective, including extensively or partially hydrolysed formula (EHF/PHF). To determine which infants at low or high risk of allergy and which infants receiving early, short-term or prolonged formula feeding may benefit from hydrolysed formulas.
We used the standard search strategy of the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group supplemented by cross referencing of previous reviews and publications (updated August 2016).
We searched for randomised and quasi-randomised trials that compared use of a hydrolysed formula versus human milk or CMF. Trials with ≥ 80% follow-up of participants were eligible for inclusion.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
We independently assessed eligibility of studies for inclusion, methodological quality and data extraction. Primary outcomes included clinical allergy, specific allergy and food allergy. We conducted meta-analysis using a fixed-effect (FE) model.
Two studies assessed the effect of three to four days' infant supplementation with an EHF whilst in hospital after birth versus pasteurised human milk feed. Results showed no difference in infant allergy or childhood cow's milk allergy (CMA). No eligible trials compared prolonged hydrolysed formula versus human milk feeding.Two studies assessed the effect of three to four days' infant supplementation with an EHF versus a CMF. One large quasi-random study reported a reduction in infant CMA of borderline significance among low-risk infants (risk ratio (RR) 0.62, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.38 to 1.00).Prolonged infant feeding with a hydrolysed formula compared with a CMF was associated with a reduction in infant allergy (eight studies, 2852 infants; FE RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.72 to 0.95; risk difference (RD) -0.04, 95% CI -0.08 to -0.01; number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNTB) 25, 95% CI 12.5 to 100) and infant CMA (two studies, 405 infants; FE RR 0.38, 95% CI 0.16 to 0.86). We had substantial methodological concerns regarding studies and concerns regarding publication bias, as substantial numbers of studies including those in high-risk infants have not comprehensively reported allergy outcomes (GRADE quality of evidence 'very low').Prolonged infant feeding with a hydrolysed formula compared with a CMF was not associated with a difference in childhood allergy and led to no differences in specific allergy, including infant and childhood asthma, eczema and rhinitis and infant food allergy. Many of the analyses assessing specific allergy are underpowered.Subroup analyses showed that infant allergy was reduced in studies that enrolled infants at high risk of allergy who used a hydrolysed formula compared with a CMF; used a PHF compared with a CMF; used prolonged and exclusive feeding of a hydrolysed formula compared with a CMF; and used a partially hydrolysed whey formula compared with a CMF. Studies that enrolled infants at high risk of allergy; used a PHF compared with a CMF; used prolonged and exclusive feeding of a hydrolysed formula compared with a CMF; and used a partially hydrolysed whey formula compared with a CMF found a reduction in infant CMA.