Switching from Name Brand to Store Brand Formula is Equally Nutritious, More Cost Effective
First Clinical Study of Switching Brands of Baby Formula Suggests Practice is Safe, Has No Adverse Effect on Babies' Tolerance of Food
Study May Help Minimize Dangerous Trend of Diluting Formula to Save Money
Gordonsville, Va., Dec. 5, 2012 – According to the first clinical study of its kind, pediatric medical researchers at the University of Virginia found that switching between different brands of infant formula is safe and resulted in no tolerance issues in infants regardless of brand. “The Safety of Formula Switching for Infants” study, funded by PBM Nutritionals, LLC, was recently presented at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital 24th Annual Research Symposium, a conference focused on U.Va. research that aims to improve the health of infants and children.
Pediatricians often advise parents and/or guardians to switch baby formula for a variety of infant behavioral issues including colic, frequent spit-up and loose stool. In otherwise healthy infants, however, these formula switches may act as a placebo therapy. The most common example of switching formulas is between national brands of cow’s milk-based infant formulas such as Enfamil® and Similac®. Until now, there had been no research that explored the effects of switching formulas.
“Based on the data in our study, there is no statistically significant difference in tolerance variables if infants are switched to a new infant formula,” said James L. Sutphen, M.D., Ph.D., U.Va. Department of Pediatrics and lead study researcher. “Switching between different brands of formula is safe, and we discovered there is no advantage to gradually switching versus immediately switching baby formula. All infant formulas sold in the United States are nutritionally equivalent and are required to meet the same stringent quality and nutritional requirements.”
Experts like Dr. Sutphen hope the data will provide peace of mind to those families who routinely water down their formula each month for cost reasons. In fact, a study published earlier this year in Clinical Pediatrics found that approximately 15 percent of food-insecure families, including recipients of public and community-based assistance programs such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Special Supplement Nutrition Program (SNAP), chose to dilute or stretch infant formula rather than try a Store Brand Formula. Half of the caregivers in the study mistakenly believed that Store Brand Formulas was not nutritionally equivalent to name brand formulas.
“The data show that some parents and caregivers are diluting infant formula to save money,” Dr. Sutphen explained. “This poses a public health risk because watering down formula reduces the amount of required nutrients to support healthy growth and development. These families need to know that they can safely switch to a low-cost alternative Store Brand Formula without compromising nutrition, quality or their child’s tolerance of the product.”
Store brand infant formulas, such as Walmart’s Parents Choice™ Infant Formula, Target’s up & up®, Kroger’s Comforts® and Sam’s Club’s Simply Right™ are nutritionally comparable to national brands such as Enfamil® and Similac®, yet are typically half the price and can save parents up to $600 a year.
“The Safety of Formula Switching for Infants” -- Study Details
The first-of-its-kind research was designed as a randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded study to explore the effects of infant formula switching, timing and tolerance. The study involved 67 infants who were randomized in groups of three, according to the formula they were accustomed to being fed. The infants were then switched to a different brand formula or the exact same control (mock switch) formula. Each infant was observed during a four-day interval followed by a three-day washout period when they were fed either a different brand formula or the control formula.
During the washout, caregivers either transitioned each infant to the new brand or switched the infant to the control formula. Caregivers documented tolerance variables – spit, burp, gas, crying, and irritability – and the protocol used during switching. Study results proved formula tolerance, regardless of brand, is similar between standard, milk-based infant formulas in healthy, term infants.
The milk-based infant formulas used in the study were Similac® Advance® (Abbott Nutrition), Enfamil® Premium (Mead Johnson Nutrition) and Parent’s Choice® (Walmart Store Brand Formula).
The study abstract and supporting graphics are available at www.storebrandformula.com.
About Store Brand Infant Formula
Store Brand Formula is manufactured in the United States in ISO 9001:2008-certified facilities. The factory in Vermont that manufactures Store Brand Formula has been manufacturing powder infant formula products for more than 25 years. For more information, visit www.storebrandformula.com.
 Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2012 Mar;51(3):238-43.2 Retail prices are from an August 2012 retail price survey of national retail stores. Actual prices and savings may vary by store and locationSimilac® and Advance® are registered trademarks of Abbott Laboratories. Enfamil® is a registered trademark of Mead Johnson & Co. Store Brand Infant Formulas are neither made by nor affiliated with Abbott Laboratories or Mead Johnson & Co.