Special Formula May Reduce Allergies in Babies

AVERTING ALLERGIES IN BABIES Babies who are at high risk for developing skin allergies may possibly reduce their risk of they are fed formula that promotes the growth of healthy bacteria, according to a new study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Researchers from Germany followed 200 babies at risk for allergies who were not able to breast-feed; half the babies got regular formula and half got a special "prebiotic" formula designed to foster a strong immune system. Over six months, 10 babies drinking the special formula developed skin allergies compared with 24 babies drinking the regular formula.

INHALED GAS HELPS PREEMIES? Inhaled nitric oxide gas may improve lung health in premature babies, according to new research published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. One study finds that nitric gas appears to lessen the risk of lung problems in preemies with no major side effects over the first few months of life. But a second study found no overall improvement in the lung function of premature infants with nitric oxide -- only the heaviest and least sick babies appeared to have some improvement. However, this study found that treatment with nitric oxide was associated with a decreased risk of brain injury. There has been growing interest in nitric oxide to treat preemies for a few years now, with many centers now participating in clinical trials. The research shows mixed benefits, and most of the follow-up on these babies has been short-term, so possible long-term side effects are still being investigated.

STAT is a brief look at the latest medical research and is compiled by Joanna Schaffhausen, who holds a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience. She works in the ABC News Medical Unit, evaluating medical studies, abstracts and news releases.