Partially hydrolyzed 100% whey protein infant formula and atopic dermatitis risk reduction: a systematic review of the literature

Nutr Rev. 2010 Apr;68(4):232-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00281.x.


The incidence of atopic dermatitis (AD) is increasing worldwide. Clinical studies have observed reduced risks of AD among infants fed with 100% whey partially hydrolyzed infant formula (PHF-W) compared with intact protein cow's milk formula. To evaluate this potential relationship more comprehensively, a systematic review of the literature was conducted. Studies (n = 18, representing 12 distinct study populations) that specified the protein source of the formula, evaluated healthy-term infants, compared the use of PHF-W with intact protein cow's milk formula, and reported results for AD were included. A critical assessment of the methodological quality of studies was conducted. In all studies, a reduced incidence of AD and/or atopic manifestations that included AD was observed. The cumulative incidence of AD was significantly lower among infants over at least 3 years of follow-up in the PHF-W group compared with the intact protein cow's milk group. Exclusive breastfeeding should be encouraged as the primary means to prevent atopic risk. However, when infants are not exclusively breastfed, PHF-W may be considered an effective measure to potentially reduce the risk of developing AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Risk Factors
  • Whey Proteins


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Milk Proteins
  • Whey Proteins