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Goat Milk versus Cow's Milk for infants and babies

by (4273)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:43 PM
Created April 19, 2012 at 4:50 AM

Ok, so I looked at all the other cows milk versus goats milk questions on here and I don't know that I seen this question asked elsewhere. A co-worker and I got into a debate today in regards to goat's milk versus cow's milk for infants and babies. She was stating that feeding children goat's milk at a young age was bad as it lead to the development of the child having more allergens later in life. I pointed out to her that I felt that this seemed counter intuitive as goat's milk is the closest thing to actual human breast milk. she said that she was told by her Dr. and others that feeding an infant goat milk would lead to the child having more medical problems in life. I pointed out to her that Cow's are ruminant animals and therefore have a slightly different protein make up and that the children were probably developing the allergies as a result of something else like early grain exposure. I did some google searching and can't really find much evidence to support either of our positions. Anyone have any more detailed info on this subject?

This is what I found: http://www.parenting.com/article/ask-dr-sears-advantages-of-goats-milk

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341 · August 09, 2012 at 4:36 PM

My 17-months old is still breastfeeding. Even thou my wife is really getting tired of breastfeeding we don't have an alternative. The little thing totally hates all other milk. I'm thinking we'll skip cow milk all together when she off the breast. I think as long as she has enough teeth to eat normal food she does not need other animals milk.

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90 · August 09, 2012 at 7:28 AM

First of all no doctor would really support any raw milk formula. Or any goat milk formula. Because their paranoid and supported by Infamil and other such corporations... Yes cow has more protein and goat has less folate. I give my son both he's doing fine. I was breastfeed till 1 and a half and have never done well with dairy so its what it is.. However I've heard that goat milk was given to babys in the past and even my old school grandparents/ and great aunt and uncles that live in rural Mexico use to go literally suck on the goats teets when they were very very young. Yup

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4273 · May 04, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Not according to Dr. Sears. He should wikipedia his science first.

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41312 · May 04, 2012 at 12:49 PM

FYI: Goats are ruminants as well.

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2056 · April 19, 2012 at 1:48 PM

I upvoted this for the co-worker tag.

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5 Answers

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1317 · May 04, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Why would one consider feeding a child anything other than breast milk in the first place? If it were my kid, it wouldn't matter if it's from a goat, cow, or whale for that matter. I'd be keeping him or her away from all of them.

Assuming the mother is unable to breastfeed, the replacement needs to be chosen carefully. (In some communities, there are breast milk banks, an option if a mother's own production is insufficient.) Goat's milk is not without risk, even if it's the basis of a prepared infant formula. (The same applies to cow's milk.)

The argument that one is more allergenic than the other doesn't wash. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends against feeding small children cow's milk, because it increases the risk of iron deficiency anemia, which at that age that can have lifelong consequences. For once, the medical establishment seems to have got something right.

I'll cite a 2010 paper in the journal Pediatrics describing severe metabolic disturbances in a five-month old. The infant was receiving raw goat's milk; pasteurization takes away the infectious disease risk, but does nothing for the nutritional composition:

Fresh Goat's Milk for Infants: Myths and Realities???A Review

The infant in this report presented with severe hypernatremia and azotemia in addition to other electrolyte abnormalities. Goat's milk contains 50 mg of sodium and 3.56 g of protein per 100 mL, approximately 3 times that in human milk (17 mg and 1.03 g per 100 mL, respectively).6 The estimated requirements of sodium and protein for infants <6 months old are 100 to 200 mg/day and 9 to 11 g/day, respectively.7 The infant described here was receiving ???500 mg/day of sodium and 30 g/day of protein, with a total intake of 32 oz of goat's milk per day. The immature kidneys in very young infants have difficulty handling the byproducts of foods with a high renal solute load.8 Sodium excretion capacity matures more slowly than glomerular filtration rate and does not attain full capacity until the second year of life.9 Therefore, infants fed fresh goat's milk are at substantive risk for hypernatremia and azotemia, particularly in the face of dehydration (as in the case described here), which may in turn result in major central nervous system pathology, including diffuse encephalopathy, intraparenchymal hemorrhage, or thromboses10 as manifested in our patient...

...The main benefit claimed by proponents of fresh goat's milk for infants is that it is less allergenic than cow's milk and is a suitable substitute for infants who are allergic to the latter. However, evidence shows that most infants who are allergic to cow's milk are also allergic to goat's milk. In vitro studies have shown that there is an extensive cross-reactivity of sera from individuals who are allergic to cow's milk with proteins found in goat's milk.17,???,19 In 1 study, 26 children with immunoglobulin E???mediated cow's milk allergy also had positive skin test responses to goat's milk, and 24 of 26 had positive double-blind, placebo-controlled, oral food challenges with fresh goat's milk.20 There have been case reports of severe life-threatening anaphylactic reactions after the ingestion of commercial goat's milk preparation in infants with documented cow's milk protein allergy.21 Furthermore, infants and young children may have signs, symptoms, and serology positive for goat's milk without being allergic to cow's milk.22,???,25 In a retrospective study, children presented with severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, after consumption of goat's milk products but tolerated cow's milk products.26

Folate deficiency with anemia in infants fed homemade formula based on goat's milk has been described.27,28 In fact, ???goat's milk anemia??? was the name given to the macrocytic hyperchromic megaloblastic anemia observed in infants fed goat's milk in Europe during the 1920s and 1930s.29 The anemia was thought to be more severe than that associated with exclusive cow's milk feeding and was cured by giving supplements of liver extracts. The concentration of folate in goat's milk is 6 ??g/L in comparison to human breast milk, which contains 50 ??g/L.30 Infants younger than 6 months of age need 65 ??g/day of folate, and the recommended daily allowance increases with age.30

There have been reports of infections such as Q fever, toxoplasmosis, and brucellosis associated with feeding raw goat's milk.31,???,33 Consumption of unpasteurized goat's milk has also been implicated in the development of Escherichia coli O157:H7???associated hemolytic uremic syndrome.34,35 Although raw goat's milk is a proven vehicle for pathogen transmission, the belief persists that raw dairy products are healthier and that pasteurized products are less beneficial and even harmful.5

The best way to go, in my humble opinion: maximize Mom's health! Make sure she's vitamin D replete, is getting plenty of calcium, magnesium and iron (lactation nutritionally hammers the mother), is eating well with lots of variety, and is in a stress-reduced environment (the regular stresses of parenting notwithstanding ;) ). This increases the chances that milk output will be sufficient and of sufficient quality to keep the baby happy and healthy.

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341 · August 09, 2012 at 4:36 PM

My 17-months old is still breastfeeding. Even thou my wife is really getting tired of breastfeeding we don't have an alternative. The little thing totally hates all other milk. I'm thinking we'll skip cow milk all together when she off the breast. I think as long as she has enough teeth to eat normal food she does not need other animals milk.

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1399 · April 19, 2012 at 11:26 AM

A1 versus A2? Goat's milk contains more A2-Caseins than A1 than (the common) cow's milk. I know children who can eat goat and sheep's milk products, but no cow dairy.

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90 · August 09, 2012 at 7:23 AM

Hi there. I breastfeed (actually pumped only) till my son was 3 months old. People don't judge me but I had to stop. I had an infant all by myself basically (dad is in the military) for the first time in my life. I had never been around children ever before and had to learn fast! I was exhausted, depressed, sleep deprived you name it. The last thing I wanted to do was resort to formula. I had such a perfect normal birth why couldn't I just breastfeed. So I didn't. I basically use a combination of cow and goat alternating between the two but mostly cow as he seems to tolerate either just fine but with goat you have to add grated chicken liver or a folic (folate) supplement to the mix since goat is lacking. I also add a teaspoon of molasses to the mix for iron and extra minerals. He will also be starting up a paleo raw liver mousse this month- that where he will really be getting his iron in. As well as introducing runny egg yolks. I think if i had to choose i'd resort to goat milk more often (it is closer to mothers milk in almost every nutrient as well i read that its been used many times in the past when women couldn't breastfeed) but its a bit more expensive; harder to get and you will have to make sure you do the liver thing. I'd choose the liver over the liquid or whatever folic acid supplement. Good luck and don't beat yourself up my son kicks butt in all the milestones and is ridiculously strong and healthy the doctor couldn't believe how well he is doing although he dislikes my giving him this formula. LOL. Focus on being as good a parent as possible and keeping his diet clean, organic and natural for the remainder of his childhood.

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80 · May 04, 2012 at 2:23 AM

I recently learned that its actually horse milk that is closest to human milk of any species. I guess goats are easier to get milk from.

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531 · May 04, 2012 at 2:53 AM

I don't know that it makes a huge difference, so I would make that decision based on which you have more readily available to you at the highest quality. This is of course assuming that your baby tolerates cow dairy, and it may be worth it to get some cow milk and goat milk and give her each for a week and note any difference in stool, digestion, gas, etc. I have no evidence to support it for sure but I have a real hunch that that stuff about goat milk leading to allergies/health problems later in life is a bunch of crap. I can't imagine what science would be behind that. I did some research myself when I weaned my daughter and in the end decided it just came down to quality and tolerance.

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