Effect of a Partially Hydrolyzed Whey Infant Formula at Weaning on Risk of Allergic Disease in High-Risk Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Aug;128(2):360-365.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.05.006. Epub 2011 Jun 22.


Background: Partially hydrolyzed whey formula (pHWF) has been recommended for infants with a family history of allergic disease at the cessation of exclusive breast-feeding to promote oral tolerance and prevent allergic diseases.

Objective: To determine whether feeding infants pHWF reduces their risk of allergic disease.

Methods: A single-blind (participant) randomized controlled trial was conducted to compare allergic outcomes between infants fed a conventional cow's milk formula, a pHWF, or a soy formula. Before birth, 620 infants with a family history of allergic disease were recruited and randomized to receive the allocated formula at cessation of breast-feeding. Skin prick tests to 6 common allergens (milk, egg, peanut, dust mite, rye grass, and cat dander) were performed at 6, 12, and 24 months. The primary outcome was development of allergic manifestations (eczema and food reactions) measured 18 times in the first 2 years of life.

Results: Follow-up was complete for 93% (575/620) at 2 years and 80% (495/620) at 6 or 7 years of age. There was no evidence that infants allocated to the pHWF (odds ratio, 1.21; 95% CI, 0.81-1.80) or the soy formula (odds ratio, 1.26; 95% CI, 0.84-1.88) were at a lower risk of allergic manifestations in infancy compared with conventional formula. There was also no evidence of reduced risk of skin prick test reactivity or childhood allergic disease.

Conclusion: Despite current dietary guidelines, we found no evidence to support recommending the use of pHWF at weaning for the prevention of allergic disease in high-risk infants.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Infant
  • Infant Food
  • Infant Formula / administration & dosage*
  • Infant Formula / chemistry*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Milk Proteins / analysis
  • Risk
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Skin Tests
  • Weaning*
  • Whey Proteins


  • Milk Proteins
  • Whey Proteins