A recent Pediatrics journal article1 about weight gain in babies fed a protein hydrolysate formula versus cow's milk based formula was picked up by the national media and, as usual, was hyped with statements such as "Cow's milk formulas cause babies to be fat!" Here are some points to consider about protein hydrolysate formulas, cow's milk formulas and trends for obesity in childhood.
Dairy-Based Infant Formula Trend
Cow's milk (also called dairy-based) infant formulas have been available since the early 1900's. Although dairy-based formulas have been around for almost a century, they became widely used in the World War II and post-war years. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, infant formula feeding was almost considered the “norm” and breastfeeding rates plummeted. Concern over this trend and the growing body of scientific evidence revealed the benefits of breast feeding for both baby and mom led to the initiation of many breast feeding promotional campaigns beginning in the 1970’s. Breast feeding rates began to rise in the late 1970’s and many breastfeeding promotional programs started to show results. In 1970, 26.5% of infants were breastfed at birth compared to 70% in 2002.2
Protein Hydrolysate Infant Formula Trend
Protein hydrolysate formulas, a newer type of infant formula, are a class of specialty formulas typically used when an infant suffers from an intolerance or allergy to cow’s milk protein. The protein portion of cow’s milk undergoes extensive chemical processing to break down the proteins, which make them hypoallergenic. Some of these formulas add synthetic amino acids as well. This results in a product with a very sour and bitter taste and an unpleasant sulfur smell. There are no organic protein hydrolysate formulas on the market because the chemical processes used to break down the proteins render the formulas non-organic.
The carbohydrate sources presently available in protein hydrolysate formulas are corn syrup solids, modified corn starch, corn maltodextrin, or table sugar. These carbohydrate sources give the formula a much sweeter flavor than breast milk. Also, almost all corn-based products today are from genetically-modified (GMO) sources.
The manufacturers of these specialized and expensive formulas are increasing their promotional and marketing efforts for such things as family history of allergies, colic, wheezing, and diarrhea. Perhaps the incentive to promote the hydrolysate formulas over standard dairy-based formulas is because they are more expensive to purchase!
Childhood Obesity Trends
The National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control showed the prevalence of obesity among preschool children ages 2 to 5 years old increased from 5% to 10.4% between the 1976-1980 and 2007-2008 surveys.3 At a time when breastfeeding rates were increasing, the prevalence of obesity was also increasing. So the question raised by the Pediatrics journal article regarding cow’s milk based formulas leading to obesity seems a bit sensationalized.
Truly, no formula can replace the unique composition of mother’s milk and breastfeeding remains the feeding of choice. However, when breast milk is not available, a cow’s milk-based formula continues to be the preferred first choice of a feeding during the important first year of life. Milk-based formula has demonstrated a long history of safety and efficacy.
Baby’s Only Organic® Dairy Formula is made with the finest of organic ingredients derived without chemical processing, contains no corn-based ingredients or table sugar. Instead, Nature’s One® uses organic brown rice syrup which is less sweet than these other carbohydrates, is GMO-free, and tastes and smells great!
1 Mennella JA, Ventura AK, Beauchamp GK. “Differential growth patterns among healthy infants fed protein hydrolysate or cow-milk formulas.” Pediatrics. 2010; 127:110-118.
For additional information refer to our website at www.NaturesOne.com.