Manila, the Philippines – Proteins found in standard cow’s milk baby formula (CMF) have been linked to increased risk of atopic dermatitis, one of the most common inflammatory disorders in infants and young children. In cases where breast feeding is not possible as an exclusive option, early (i.e., the first 17 weeks of life) nutrition with whey-based partially hydrolyzed formula (PHF-W) has been found to reduce the risk of atopic dermatitis relative to standard CMF in healthy, at-risk infants. In addition, PHF-W has been found to be cost effective vs. CMF in Europe, North America, and Australia.
In the first study examining the cost effectiveness of PHF-W vs. CMF in an Asian country, researchers at Pharmerit International, Nestlé Nutrition and academic medical centers in the Philippines sought to determine whether PHF-W was a viable and cost-effective alternative to CMF from a Filipino societal perspective.
In the study “Cost-Effectiveness of Partially Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Formula in the Primary Prevention of Atopic Dermatitis in At-Risk Urban Filipino Infants” the researchers used mathematical modeling techniques to simulate over six years of epidemiologic, quality adjusted life-year, and atopic dermatitis (AD) related costs (indirect and direct) incurred by cohorts of healthy, at-risk infants using PHF-W as an AD prevention or cow’s milk for the first 17 weeks of life. Based on this 6-year simulation, PHF-W was predicted to result in a reduction in the economic, clinical, and humanistic burden of atopic dermatitis. The overall net savings of PHF-W was substantial at ₱10,654 (US$237) per child who initiated PHF-W during the first 17 weeks of life.
Dr. Rizalina Gonzalez, MD, co-author on the study and pediatrician at the Hemedez-Gonzalez Clinic in Laguna, the Philippines, remarked on the importance of these findings: “It can be put into better context when we account that the cost savings is equivalent to a month’s salary of a good portion of the population. Beyond that, the impact on daily life of the family is worth noting. The lesser number of doctor’s visit, absences from work and school offer a better overall perceived quality of life.”
Dr. Ma Victoria Dizon, MD, co-author on the study and pediatric dermatologist at the Makati Medical Center in Makati City, the Philippines, added: “This study is important in recognizing the promising potential of PHF-W for our infants at risk for atopic dermatitis. This insight also demonstrates the value of formal economic analyses in Asian countries such as the Philippines, which to date, have been relatively uncommon.”
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