The ins and outs of hypoallergenic formula

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Highlights
  • Make sure to speak with your baby’s pediatrician before using hypoallergenic formulas.
  • HA formulas are unique because they contain only small pieces of proteins, or amino acids—the building blocks of proteins.
  • These formulas are designed to help manage cow’s milk protein allergy.
  • There are two types of hypoallergenic formulas.

Your baby’s doctor may recommend a hypoallergenic infant formula If cow’s milk protein allergy is suspected. HA or hypoallergenic formulas are made with proteins that have been broken down into very small pieces called “peptides” or “amino acids”. These smaller proteins in infant formula greatly lower the chances of causing an allergic reaction. These types of infant formulas have been used to manage cow’s milk protein allergy for over 50 years.

In order to be labeled “hypoallergenic,” studies must show that babies with cow’s milk protein allergy are able to drink the formula without having an allergic reaction. 

Different proteins, different formulas

There are two types of formulas usually recommended for cow’s milk protein allergy: Formulas made with extremely broken down proteins and those made from amino acids, very small entities known constituting the  building blocks of proteins.  

Extensively hydrolyzed formula
Extensively hydrolyzed infant formulas go through a process called “hydrolysis” to extensively break proteins down into very small pieces. It’s basically a form of “predigesting” these proteins in order to lower the chances that the proteins will cause an allergic reaction. For most infants and young children with an allergy to cow’s milk protein, this formula is effective and well tolerated.

Amino acid formula
An amino acid infant formula contains amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Amino acid infant formula may be a good option for babies who are more sensitive to milk protein, have multiple food allergies or if their symptoms are not improving on an extensively hydrolyzed infant formula.


1.Regular Milk based infant formula_6115
2.Milk-based partially hydrolyzed formula_6115
3. Milk-based extensively hydrolyzed formula_6115
4. Amino acid formula_6115
Regular milk-based
infant formula 
Milk-based partially
hydrolyzed formula
 Milk-based extensively
hydrolyzed formula 
 Amino acid formula
Not hypoallergenic Not hypoallergenic Hypoallergenic Hypoallergenic
Always use hypoallergenic formulas under doctor supervision
Hypoallergenic formulas are lactose-free, and some even contain a special type of fat called “medium chain triglycerides” or MCTs, which are easily absorbed by babies. In some cases, formulas with MCTs can even help fat absorption in babies whose digestive system has been damaged from the allergy. This makes hypoallergenic formula with MCTs a good option for babies who may have cow’s milk protein allergy.

Soy-based infant formula may be recommended, but, in some cases, will not be effective because  any infants with cow’s milk protein allergy will also have an allergy to  soy protein. Hypoallergenic formulas with MCTs may also be beneficial for these babies. 
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