Date Published: 8 November 2005

Goat milk formula gives babies same growth rates as cow milk formula

Goat's milk infant formula is a suitable alternative to cow milk formula, according to a new study by Dr Cameron Grant, Associate Professor in Paediatrics at the University of Auckland and paediatrician at Starship Children's Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand. The study is in the latest edition of the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health (JPCH), the peer reviewed journal of the Paediatrics Division of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).

"Our study shows that in healthy non-allergic children, goat milk formula is a suitable alternative to cow milk formula. Breast milk remains the food of choice for infants but for infants who cannot be breastfed, this study demonstrates goat milk infant formula is an appropriate alternative," Dr Grant said.

The study conducted during 2001 and 2002, included 72 infants in Auckland who were enrolled in the days immediately following birth and followed until six months of age. Enrolled infants were randomised to receive either goat milk infant formula (Dairy Goat Co-operative N.Z. Ltd) or a cow milk infant formula. Parents and nurses involved in the study were not aware which type of formula the baby was being fed. A research nurse visited each enrolled infant at enrolment and seven subsequent set time points. At each of these visits infant weight, length and head circumference were measured and any adverse events, other foods and drinks consumed, the infant's typical bowel motions, usual sleep and crying patterns and prescribed medicines were also recorded.

Growth, as measured by increase in weight, length and head circumference, did not differ between the two groups. No group differences were noted in infant behaviours or in the frequency of adverse events such as vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, food refusal or screaming, any of which would imply a difference in the infants' ability to tolerate the two formulas.

"In New Zealand and Australia goat milk infant formula is available at similar cost to soy formulas, both these types of formula being typically 20-50% more expensive than standard cow milk-based formulas. In New Zealand the use of goat milk infant formula now exceeds the use of soy-based formulas and comprises about 5% of infant formula purchased."

The study was not designed to determine differences in allergies between babies fed goat milk formula and cow milk formula.

Source(s): Royal Australasian College of Physicians

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