• atopic disease;
  • cow’s milk allergy;
  • eczema;
  • hypoallergenic formula

Objective: To determine the effect of a partially hydrolysed formula on genetically predisposed children, with respect to the development of atopic clinical manifestations and in vitro testing of serum IgE levels (total and milk-specific).

Methods: One hundred and ten infants were randomly assigned to receive either partially hydrolysed formula or standard infant formula, and were prospectively monitored from birth for clinical atopic symptoms and serum IgE levels.

Results: Eczema occurred less frequently in infants receiving partially hydrolysed formula. This was significant (P < 0.05) at 3, 6, 9, 12, 18 and 24 months. However, the significance decreased with time, although it almost reached statistical significance at 30 months by the Kaplan–Meier survival function (log–rank statistic, 3.46; P = 0.063). Although wheezing occurred less frequently in infants receiving partially hydrolysed formula, compared to those receiving standard infant formula, the difference did not reach statistical significance (P > 0.05).

Conclusions: Exclusive feeding of hypoallergenic milk formula in the first 4 months of life has a protective effect in terms of the development of atopic dermatitis in the first 2 years of life, compared to feeding with cow’s milk formula.