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Ban health claims on formula milk, say researchers

Ban health claims on formula milk, say researchers concerned that products are being sold as a solution to infant problems with weak evidence

  • Research led by Dr Robert Boyle, specialist in child allergies at Imperial College London 
  • Study highlighted Aptamil Comfort, which is claimed to help manage colic and constipation 
  • And SMA HA Infant Milk, which claims to ‘reduce the risk of developing an allergy to cows’ milk proteins’ 
  • Dr Boyle’s team, writing in the British Medical Journal, said they ‘cannot recommend’ such products 

Marketing claims for all baby formula milk should be banned, according to researchers.

They raised concerns that some products are being sold as a solution to various infant problems with only weak evidence.

A team led by Dr Robert Boyle, a specialist in child allergies at Imperial College London, highlighted Aptamil Comfort, which is claimed to help manage colic and constipation, and SMA HA Infant Milk, which claims to ‘reduce the risk of developing an allergy to cows’ milk proteins’.

EU rules ban firms from making health and nutrition claims about formula milk but the BMJ says this does not apply to ‘follow-on’ products for older babies

Scientific reviews of similar products in 2018 found no firm evidence to back claims of curing colic or preventing allergies.

Dr Boyle’s team, writing in the British Medical Journal, said they ‘cannot recommend’ such products. 

The academics added claims such as these are oftentimes unfounded and actually may increase the risk of certain infectious diseases. 

The BMJ states: ‘If these claims imply effective treatment of problems such as colic, gastro-oesophageal reflux, cow’s milk allergy, or poor weight gain, they may cause harm by delaying appropriate investigations or treatments for underlying medical problems.’ 

EU rules ban firms from making health and nutrition claims about formula milk but the BMJ says this does not apply to ‘follow-on’ products for older babies.

Dr Boyle and his colleagues added the current EU regulations are not practical in preventing ‘misleading claims’ which might ‘carry health risks for a vulnerable population’. 

Dr Boyle's team also campaigned for the bar for the scientific evidence to be 'significantly higher than that currently used by manufacturers to justify their claims'

Dr Boyle’s team also campaigned for the bar for the scientific evidence to be ‘significantly higher than that currently used by manufacturers to justify their claims’

Dr Boyle warned claims based on weak evidence ‘could nudge women into introducing formula earlier to babies or feeding them more of it, when we know breast milk is much better for their health’.

The academics wrote any changes to ingredients used in baby infant formula should first have pre-market approval, and, if shown to have a beneficial health effect, be included in international food standards according to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines so all formula-fed infants may benefit. 

Dr Boyle’s team also campaigned for the bar for the scientific evidence to be ‘significantly higher than that currently used by manufacturers to justify their claims’. 

‘Infants and their carers are not being adequately protected from adverse consequences of claims about infant formula,’ they wrote. 

The makers of Aptamil and SMA were contacted for comment.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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