Cow's milk does a baby good

Jul 14, 2010

Many doctors suggest that whole cow's milk be avoided in the early months of an infant's feeding. Lactation specialists go even further, counseling "mother's milk only" until baby starts eating solid food. But new research from Tel Aviv University says that mothers who feed their babies cow's milk in the first 15 days of life may be protecting their children from dangerous allergies later on.

Prof. Yitzhak Katz of Tel Aviv University's Department of Pediatrics, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, has found that babies who are fed cow early, in the form of infant formula, seem to be protected from developing an allergy to the same protein later in life. "Women who regularly (daily) introduced their babies to cow protein early, before 15 days of life, almost completely eliminated the incidence of allergy to cow milk protein in their babies," he reports.

His findings are reported in a recent issue of the .

The first fifteen days

In the study, the longest and largest prospective study of its kind, the researchers looked at the feeding history of 13,019 infants. Children who were started on infant formula containing cow's milk protein in the first through the 15th days of life were almost completely protected from developing Protein Allergy (CMA) -- 19 times more protected than babies fed cow's milk protein after 15 days. CMA can be dangerous to babies, leading to rashes, respiratory problems, shock and even death, so this boost to the early in life acts as a "vaccination."

The surprising results from the study emerged when Prof. Katz and his colleagues set out to find if CMA was accompanied by an allergy to soy milk as well. "We weren't even looking for a risk factor," he says, adding that they found no link between cow's milk and soy allergies, despite previous evidence that had proposed a link. "Soy is still a reasonable feeding alternative for children with cow's milk allergy," Prof. Katz says.

At this point, he can't say how much formula is needed to produce the protective effect, but the pediatrician suggests a single bottle-feed at night for those mothers who are breastfeeding. More conclusive studies will be needed to provide a definite recipe.

Counselling the WHO

The Tel Aviv University study provides invaluable information for lactation specialists, and possibly for the World Health Organization, which currently recommends that a woman switch from breast to bottle at the three-to-five month period. It is exactly this age period that Prof. Katz found to be the worst time to expose a baby to cow's milk. If not exposed earlier, he suggests waiting until the child is one year old to introduce cow's milk into the diet.

The study also provides the most conclusive results on the incidence of allergy to cow's milk protein in babies and children. In a given population, the rates of allergy are still quite high ― 0.5% in Prof. Katz's estimation ― but much lower than the two-to-four percent documented in other literature.

More research is needed on how early feeding of cow's milk could protect a child into their teen and adult years from the common cow's milk . Meanwhile, Prof. Katz suggests a feed of high-quality formula every night after birth ― giving Dad an opportunity to enjoy some quality time with baby as well, he points out.

Explore further: New study detects early metabolic signals that our bodies are not coping with diet or lifestyle

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New evidence on benefits of breast feeding

Aug 11, 2008

Researchers in Switzerland and Australia are reporting identification of proteins in human breast-milk — not present in cow's milk — that may fight disease by helping remove bacteria, viruses and other ...

WIC might prevent mothers from feeding cow's milk too early

Jun 29, 2010

Some low-income mothers are more likely than others to introduce their infants to cow's milk too soon. In doing so, they may put their children at risk of health complications, according to a study by researchers at Penn ...

Anxious parents misdiagnose milk formula intolerance

Jun 19, 2009

Some parents may be unnecessarily switching infant milk formulas for their healthy infants. A study published in BioMed Central's open access Nutrition Journal, found that many parents misinterpret common baby behaviors as mil ...

Recommended for you

Study shows human ear impacted by low frequency noises

29 minutes ago

(Medical Xpress)—A new study by a team of researchers in Germany has resulted in findings that suggest the human ear is more impacted by low frequency sounds than has been previously thought. In their paper ...

Learn how to recognize, intervene in domestic violence cases

2 hours ago

As recently as 40 years ago, domestic violence often was not considered a crime, even by law enforcement and the judicial system. Victims had little or no resources to help them escape the violence aimed at them and their ...

Exercise to prevent falls and fractures

3 hours ago

Boosting your activity levels and doing strength and balance exercises significantly reduces your risk of breaking a bone as a result of falling if you are over 60, according to experts from an international research group ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

breastfeedingmomma
not rated yet Jul 27, 2010
That is the worst advice! Human breastmilk has something called "lactoferrin" in it that actually helps the baby absorb iron in his gut amongst other important immunological things. The problem with your advice is that this enzyme immediately stops production as soon as the iron-fortified infant formula enters the baby's digestive tract. So giving a breastfed infant a bottle of formula at night which can have many implications on the mother's milk supply as well is horrible advice. The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and continued breastfeeding through 2 years and beyond.
breastfeedingmomma
not rated yet Jul 27, 2010
You need to do more research to keep babies feeding on breastmilk, not try to promote even more cow's milk. For 400,000 years humans did not consume cow's milk--makes sense that we shouldn't consume it now. Especially when mother's milk is free, nutritionally optimal and immunologically sound. Do your research on the entire topic of what acutally "does a baby good" and stop promoting bad nutrition and bad health.