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Keywords:

  • amino acids;
  • food hypersensitivity;
  • infant formula;
  • infant nutrition;
  • protein hydrolyzates

Aim:  To gain insight into the use of hypoallergenic formula in Australia by analysis of prescribing statistics.

Methods:  Statistics on supply of amino acid and extensively hydrolyzed formula were obtained from the Health Insurance Commission web site. The number of prescriptions supplied in 2003 and 2004 per 1000 children aged 4 years and younger were calculated for each State and Territory. This was related to the numbers of paediatric physicians and paediatric allergists in each State.

Results:  There was a marked rise in the use of amino acid formula (AAF) commencing in 2001. The Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria had 6–7 times more AAF items per 1000 children prescribed than Western Australia. This did not appear to relate to the numbers of paediatricians or paediatric allergists in each State. In all States and Territories the prescribing of extensively hydrolyzed formula was less than that of AAF.

Conclusions:  There are significant regional differences which do not appear to be related to the prevalence of allergic disease. In some States and Territories AAF may be frequently prescribed as a first line treatment for cows milk allergy and for prevention of allergic disease in contradistinction to current recommendations of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and authoritative statements and position papers. Re-examination of both the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme guidelines and the knowledge and perceptions of the prescribing community is indicated.