HealthDay News — In the early 21st century, prescriptions for specialized formula for cow’s milk allergy increased in England, Norway, and Australia, and exceeded expected levels, according to a study published online July 7 in Clinical and Experimental Allergy.

Shriya Mehta, from Imperial College London, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of national prescription databases in the United Kingdom, Norway, and Australia to examine specialized formula trends.

The researchers found that from 2007 to 2018, prescribed volumes of specialized formula for infants increased 2.8-fold in England, with similar trends seen in other regions of the United Kingdom. From 2009 to 2020, volumes increased 2.2-fold in Norway, while from 2001 to 2012, volumes increased 3.2-fold in Australia. In 2020, total volumes were 9.7- to 12.6-fold greater, 8.3- to 15.6-fold greater, and 3.3- to 4.5-fold greater than expected in England, Norway, and Australia, respectively; in Australia, prescribing restrictions were introduced in 2012. From 2009 to 2020, the proportion of infants prescribed specialized formula increased from 2.2 to 6.9 percent in Norway, which was 11.2- to 13.3-fold greater than expected. In 2020, specialized infant formula cost $117, $93, and $27 per birth in England, Norway, and Australia, respectively. Thirty to 50 percent of the prescribed specialized formula across the three countries in 2020 was amino-acid formula.

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“The data show an important shift in early childhood nutrition, which is likely to increase early years’ free sugars consumption and may promote the development of noncommunicable diseases,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the food allergy industry; a second author served as an expert witness in cases involving food anaphylaxis and a disputed infant formula health claim.

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