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Human Milk for Human Babies

January 19, 2016
General Guidelines: In general, only breastmilk or formula should be used if your baby is less than six months old.
Simple as that.

NO cow's Milk until 12 months?
Use of cow’s milk before a year is controversial among experts. You might want to get your baby’s doctor’s opinion on this, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends NO cow’s milk until after the first birthday.

Cow’s milk is more specific to a baby cow than a baby human. Cow’s milk formula is based on cow’s milk but has been engineered to be closer to human milk (still a ways off, but closer). Many infants still have problems with cow’s milk formula (allergies, GI problems, etc.). Babies who are exposed to cow’s milk before their first birthday are more likely to be anemic, have diarrhea or vomiting, and/or experience an allergic reaction (the proteins in milk are more numerous than those in other milk products, such as the yogurt). The excessive protein load in cow’s milk can also overload a baby’s kidneys. It is deficient in vitamins C, E, and copper. It is harder to digest as well, often causing intestinal blood loss. A number of studies have also indicated that early introduction of cow’s milk may contribute to the development of Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus.

Why not Goat’s Milk?
Using goat’s milk before 6 months or regular use between 6 and 12 months is not recommended. Goat’s milk is no more appropriate to give baby than cow’s milk. If you need to supplement and breastmilk is not available, formulas are a more nutritionally complete product.

In recent studies  the AAP finds goat milk is much closer in composition to cow milk than human milk, but calls this a "dangerous practice". Goat’s milk is high in sodium (like cow’s milk) and is very high in chloride and potassium, which makes the renal solute load too high for babies. This can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and can result in anemia and poor growth (these problems are usually undetected until months later). Goat milk is also deficient in folic acid, which can lead to megaloblastic anemia. Also, infants who are allergic to cow’s milk protein are often allergic to goat’s milk too.

While it’s true that whole goat's milk (and whole cow’s milk) was commonly used prior to the advent of infant formulas it is also true that the infant mortality and morbidity rate during the times of such substitutions was very high.

What about Almond Milk?
In a rare case, an 11-month-old infant in Spain developed scurvy because the only food he ate was an almond-based baby formula that didn't have vitamin C, according to a new report of his case.The baby was brought to the doctor because he was acting irritable and losing weight ; he would also cry if someone tried to move his legs. Although the baby had been able to sit up by himself when he was 7 months old, he had since became unstable when sitting, and by the time he reached 11 months, he wasn't walking.
Tests showed that the infant had bone loss , fractures in his thighbone and very low vitamin C levels, the report said.

"This case presents scurvy as a new and severe complication of improper use of almond beverage in the first year of life," the researchers, from Hospital Universitario y Politécnico La Fe in Valencia, wrote in the Jan. 18 issue of the journal Pediatrics. "Pediatricians and parents should be aware that plant-based beverages are not a complete food and they may not replace breastfeeding or infant formula," they said.

Heather Knott, RN-IBCLC
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