(Alimentum, Nutramigen, Pregestamil)If you see the term "hypoallergenic" on the label, this means that the formula has been proven to cause fewer allergies
in babies than standard formulas. Since, by definition, the term "allergy"
implies a sensitivity to a protein, the term "hypoallergenic" means that the
protein in the formula has been "hydrolyzed" or "predigested," broken down into
tinier proteins that are less likely to cause allergic reactions. Consider these
potential problems with hydrolyzed protein formulas.
- The protein problem: In contrast to formulas that advertise "partially
hydrolyzed protein," in these formulas the proteins need to be completely
hydrolyzed or broken down into smaller parts in order for the label to carry the
term "hypoallergenic." This requires intense processing that results in a
bitter, almost unpalatable flavor, despite the high content of sweeteners.
Tasting one of these formulas is enough to make any mother want to re-lactate.
- The carbohydrate problem. When the protein is hydrolyzed, the lactose is
also taken out of the milk, so the manufacturer has to add carbohydrates --
usually corn syrup, sucrose, corn starch, or even tapioca. As we described
above, substituting other sugars for lactose may not be a good idea. Nor is it
necessarily true that a baby with protein allergies will also be lactose
- The salt problem. Hypoallergenic formulas are 30 to 90 percent higher in
- The fat problem. The fat blend of Alimentum or Nutramigen is the same as
found in each manufacturer's cow's-milk-based formulas, Similac and Enfamil,
respectively. The primary fats in Pregestamil are medium-chain triglycerides,
an intestinal-friendly fat that is used in children with fat malabsorption
disorders. MCT's are a factory-made fat. They do not occur in nature, and they
provide no essential fatty acids essential for a baby's growing brain and body.
MCT's can be used as an energy supplement to boost weight gain in infants
growing slowly. Yet, they should not be a baby's main fat source unless advised
by your doctor. Pregestamil should not be given to healthy babies with no
proven fat malabsorption disorders, or to infants with impaired liver function.
- The price problem. The infant pays a high nutritional price for these
formulas, and parents discover that hypoallergenic formulas are four to five
times more expensive than standard formulas.
Our conclusion: Hypoallergenic formulas should not be used without a doctor's
recommendation, and then only if there is a definite medical reason. Don't
switch to one of these formulas just because baby is "fussy" without trying
different standard formulas first.