Dr. Alan Greene on Goat's Milk

Will my baby be allergic to goat's milk?

Question

My 6-month-old is allergic to cow's milk and soy. What do you think about goat's milk?

Answer

People used to say children that young don't have allergies, but clearly they do. About 6 percent do, more than one in 20. Most of these are allergic to only one allergen, but among those whose allergy is to cow's milk, there is a higher chance that they will also be allergic to soy and perhaps to goat's milk. The good news is that these children are very likely to outgrow these allergies, most by the first birthday and almost all by age 3.

Formulas like Nutramigen or Alimentum are hydrolyzed so that there is very little cow's milk protein and many babies will do well on them. Those who are very allergic could use Neocate, which has none. I recommend that babies get either breast milk or formula for the full first year.

Goat's milk is closer to human milk than cow's milk is, and in many countries it is used exclusively for infant feeding. The protein in goat's milk is easier to digest than the protein in cow's milk. If you are going to use goat's milk, the biggest things to be aware of are the vitamins, especially vitamin B12 and folate. Children who do not get supplemented with these can develop megaloblastic anemia. The other big thing to be aware of is that a bacterium called brucellosis can occur in goat's milk, so you should boil it before giving it to babies. For children over 1 year old, goat's milk is probably better than cow's milk, just not used so much in the U.S.

 

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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