12 Reasons for not giving Cow’s milk before 1yr of infant .

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In every household the question crops up of introducing Cow’s milk when the breast milk is not sufficient as formula feed milk are expensive.
On other hand you get instructions from your pediatrician of not introducing Cow’s milk to your infant until 12 months. Well, I too faced sarcasm from elders for not giving Cow’s milk though I had sufficient Breast milk production but for my growing twins the requirement was little higher.

Question arises in everybody’s mind that why this abstaining when Cow’s milk is nutritious.

Before I share with you the logical reasons behind abstaining cow’s milk until first birthday, would like to highlight the composition of cow’s milk as well as human milk, wherein the composition is more or less same but not the quantity.

Ingredients Cow’s milk semiskimmed, pasteurized per 100g Human milk mature per 100g
Protein (g) 3.3 1.3
Casein : Whey protein 80:20 40:60
Fat (g) 7.9 10.8
Saturated fat (g) 4.6 4.9
Poly unsaturated fat 0.5 1.2
Iron 0.02 0.07
Vitamin A (Retinol ug) 19 58
Vitamin A(Carotene ug) 9 24
Vitamin C 2 4
Vitamin D Trace Trace
Sodium (mg) 43 15
Potassium (mg) 156 58
Chloride (mg) 87 42
  1. Cow’s milk is for baby cow not baby human

Every mammal’s new born has different requirement of growth . The calf is much huge and its growth requirement is more than human infant .Hence, the cow milk is apt for the growth of calf and not humans. In fact by giving Cow’s milk you are taxing your baby’s digestive system which is yet to develop fully. Some babies tend to develop Gastro-intestinal problems.

  1. Protein present in Cow’s milk is almost double than the Breast milk

As you can see in the table above, protein content is almost double in Cow’s milk. Infants need more energy from fat for the development of brain, spinal cord and nerves.

The ratio of casein to whey protein is 40:60 in humans while 80:20 in Cow’s milk .It’s quite clear that Cow’s milk contain more casein which is difficult for infants to digest .Formulated milk contains more whey protein than casein and is similar to breast milk. So the best replacement for breast milk is formulated milk and not cow’s milk. Casein is associated with constipation or diarrhea, gastrointestinal problems and allergies, including type 1 diabetes.

  1. Fat in breast milk is for brain development not body building

Fat content per 100 g of whole cow’s milk as compared to human milk is more or less same i.e. 3.9 g and 4.1 g respectively. While these values are close the types of fat vary. Cow’s milk has more saturated fat while human milk has more unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fat includes DHA and AA which is vital for brain development, spinal cord and nerves, whereas saturated fat is associated with body building. Hence, Cow’s milk more with saturated fats helps the calf grow in size rapidly, not in brain development.

  1. Calcium

The calcium content in Cow’s milk is 120 mg per 100 ml which is almost 4 times of calcium present in humans milk (34 mg per 100 ml).This discrepancy is for good reason, calves grow much quickly and have large skeleton so their requirement for calcium is much higher than human infant . According to American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition though calcium in human milk is very less it is better absorbed by infants as compared to calcium in Cow’s milk. Therefore, breast milk for infants is best until 12 months.

  1. Iron

As you can see in the above table, the iron content in Cow’s milk is very less as compared to human’s milk. The formula milk are therefore fortified with iron .Therefore , infants dependent on Cow’s milk can develop Iron deficiency Anemia.

  1. Salts

The high content of Sodium, Potassium, and magnesium and chloride content of Cow’s milk is called as high renal solute load; this means that the unabsorbed solutes from diet should be excreted via kidneys. This causes unnecessary strain on immature kidneys of infants to draw more water from body causing high risk of dehydration in infants.

  1. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is required for healthy vision and breast milk has enough Vitamin A for your child. Colostrum , the first few days breast milk has twice as much as Vitamin A than transitional or mature breast milk. These higher levels of Vitamin A , especially beta carotene is responsible for yellow – orange colour of Colostrum. Formula fed infants are needed extra dosage of vitamin A. Cow’s milk also has less percentage of Vitamin A as compared to human milk.

  1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that plays a vital role in immunomodulation. Human colostrum having sufficient Vitamin C has number of biochemical functions linked to functions of immune system, growth, development, absorption of iron and survival of infants.

It also prevents a rare disease called scurvy.

  1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps in building strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D is present in breast milk but varies from woman to woman depending on the quantity she receives. Apart from diet , the major source of Vitamin D is received from sun, so the skin tone and where you live plays a significant role in sun exposure and vitaminD that one could receive.

Vitamin D is also found in traces in Cow’s milk. Giving Cow’s milk for building strong bones in infants is a myth.

  1. Allergies

Rashes, breathing issues and wheezing can all be a result of cow’s milk allergy in babies. Symptoms can be more extreme such as constipation, hives or a stuffy/ itchy nose as well.

  1. Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance can show up as vomiting, gastrointestinal or stomach upset and even diarrhoea in babies on the introduction of cow’s milk.
In case your baby does seem to have an allergy to cow’s milk, you should consult your doctor for alternatives to cow’s milk such as soy milk.

  1. Diabetes

Research shows that insulin dependent diabetes is less common in infants who are exclusively breastfed for the first year of life. However, milk products like yogurt and cheese have great health benefits and can be given before completion of first year.

When to give Cow’s milk





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