|Milk & Gruel May Be Cruel
The developing digestive system of a young infant is specifically designed
to digest mother's milk during the first 12 months. If breastfeeding
is not possible, the next best choice is iron-fortified infant formula.
Solid food should not be introduced until four to six months of age, at
Unfortunately, parenting advice shared by well-meaning family,
friends and sometimes even doctors, is not necessarily healthy advice for
tiny tummies. The most common diversions from recommended feeding practices
for infants include giving:
Cow's milk before age one.
Goat's milk as an alternative to formula.
Infant cereal to very young babies.
Any one, or more of these situations are quite common
in households across the U.S. and beyond. However, parents should ponder
more current medical findings and recommendations before deciding to practice
them. Here's why.
A number of studies, indicate that the early introduction of cow's milk may
contribute to the development of IDDM (insulin-dependent
diabetes mellitus). Among these, was a report regarding "Infant feeding practices and their possible relationship to the etiology of diabetes mellitus," by the American Academy of Pediatrics Work Group on Cow's Milk Protein and Diabetes Mellitus (Pediatrics 1994;94:752-4), which states that, "avoidance of cow's
milk protein for the first several months of life may reduce the later
development of IDDM or delay its onset in susceptible individuals."
Susceptible individuals are those in families with a strong history of
IDDM, and particularly when a sibling has diabetes. The report concludes that, "Breastfeeding and
of commercially available cow's milk and products containing intact cow's
milk protein during the first year of life are strongly encouraged."
policy statement (Pediatrics Volume 89, Number 6 June Part 1, 1992, p 1105-1109) by the AAP, extensive studies reflect that babies
given WCM (whole cow's milk) take in lower levels of iron, linoleic
acid, and vitamin E, and excessive levels of sodium, potassium,
and protein. Infants who were fed breastmilk or iron-fortified formula
during the first year, generally maintained healthy iron levels.
Additionally, the studies indicate that the high levels of calcium
and phosphorus, and low levels of Vitamin C in whole cow's milk
actually decreases absorption of iron from infant cereals and other
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) Guidelines
for Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Iron Deficiency takes the
stand against cow's milk a bit farther, by recommending children aged one
to five years don't consume more than 24 oz. of cow's milk (or soy and
goat milk) each day.
Another consideration focuses on infants who are at high risk for food
allergies. According to nutrition professionals from the Manitoba Milk
Producers site, the prevalence of cow's
milk allergy is highest in infancy. A predominate factor leading to
food allergy is the early introduction of food allergens, therefore, feeding
an infant cow's milk before three to four months places the child at greater
risk for intolerance.
Undoubtedly, general consensus shoots down the "Got Milk?" motto and
instead shouts, "Not milk!" when it comes to feeding babies during their
~~~ More ~~~
About Goat's Milk?
Graphics by Lynn M. Johnson, 1999
& Gruel Part II
In A Bottle?
Milk & Gruel Part
Baby Nature and Nurture
Encyclopedia: Cow's Milk