|Today, many of the problems parents have with their babies are linked to new parenting and
feeding techniques that have been implemented during the recent century. Colic, for instance, is far more
common in the U.S. than in many other places around the world. Two chief causes for its rise are the stress
suffered by babies being regularly separated from their mothers, and the common difficulties babies have
tolerating the large cow's milk proteins in infant formulas and breastfeeding mothers' diets. Cow's milk is a
foreign substance that has pervaded every corner of our diets - starting with artificial infant feeds, but
finding its way into mother's breastmilk through the foods she eats as well. As it turns out, health problems
such as childhood diabetes, obesity, bowel disease, osteoporosis, heart disease, cataracts, colic, ear
infections, hyperactivity, and cancer, on the rise in both children and adults, can be strongly linked to
infant feeding choices.
While there are literally thousands of research studies, each revealing at least one of milk's hazards, the
dairy industry goes to great lengths to stifle any damaging rumors. Blanket statements, such as, "There
is simply no scientific research to back up these claims," are easily made. With a long and successful
history of dairy promotion, these are readily accepted by the public. More people need to go to the real
research and learn the truth for themselves. They should be very suspicious of these foreign foods being
pushed on their children. They should question motives as well as possible outcomes. Although some of the
dangers of cow's milk consumption relate more to adults than to children, parents' actions form the basis for
lifelong dairy-consuming habits in their children.
The harmful components of cow's milk include all the major parts of it, as well as some more minor
elements. Lactose is a sugar meant for babies, but it's generally harmful to adults. When adults DO breakdown
lactose, the resultant galactose can cause vision, prostate, and other problems in older adults. The proteins
in cow's milk are different from human milk proteins and cause problems of digestion, intolerance, impaired
absorption of other nutrients, and autoimmune reactions. Few of the proteins meant for baby cows are found
naturally in human mother's milk, and none are found in any natural adult human food. Even the high protein
content in cow's milk creates problems. Human babies need the saturated fats and cholesterol in mother's milk.
Bovine milk fat is not appropriately composed for human babies and is only deleterious to the health of
children and adults. Cow hormones are not meant for humans, and older children and adults are not meant to
consume hormones. And, cows have been selectively bred over time to create high levels of these hormones -
those being the cows that grow the fastest and produce the greatest amount of milk. Cows also concentrate
pesticides and pollutants into their milk fat, from their high dietary food and water requirements. The high
amount of drugs now given to cows adds to this chemical soup. But we need milk to build strong bones, don't
we? Actually, heavy milk consumption is associated with increased osteoporosis.
The highly promoted idea that milk builds strong bones refers to the prevention of osteoporosis - this is
the reason for strengthening bones. Decades of effort to demonstrate that high calcium diets chiefly derived
from dairy products build strong bones have failed to prove any such correlation. In fact, the opposite seems
to be true.1 It appears that high calcium intake before puberty, and especially in young childhood, may have
some slight positive effect on bones, but this diet is not the answer. A balanced intake of all the bone
minerals, along with adequate vitamin A, C, D, and K, is what is truly needed. A balanced intake of minerals
cannot occur when the diet emphasizes dairy. Dairy's high calcium causes relative deficiencies in magnesium
and other bone-building minerals, and its high phosphorus and animal protein reduces calcium availability.
Physical activity has the greatest benefit for bones - the body efficiently uses what is available to build
strong bones when it senses the need. Human milk and vegetable sources are superior to dairy for calcium and
other nutrients in many ways. There are fewer nutritional or other health advantages to giving cow's milk to
children than is generally believed, while there are certainly many risks.
Almost every day another health research finding is made about whole grains, a serving of vegetables, two
fruits per day, cashews, legumes, fish, or some other food, other than milk that is, and their connection to a
reduced risk of heart disease, breast cancer, stroke, diabetes, or other disease. This is because cow's milk
and its derivatives today make up one-third of the adult diet, and half to two-thirds of caloric intake in
children, thus replacing so much other important, nutritious food needed in the diet. This leads to
insufficient intake of important vitamins, several minerals, and healthy fiber and vegetable oils.
Cancer-preventing antioxidants in foods are missing in this milk diet as well. While one form of antioxidant
vitamin A is added to milk (but not all dairy products), it is likely counteracted by the pesticide and drug
residues. The full complement of vitamin A and associated enzymes, found in vegetables and other foods, are
required for cancer prevention. Many, many more kinds of antioxidants are found in vegetables, legumes,
fruits, and grains.
No other animal in the animal kingdom drinks milk beyond childhood. No other animal suffers from
osteoporosis, except the occasional pet raised on human meals.
If there remains a desire to provide milk to a child who has no diarrhea, rashes, or other intolerance
reactions, organic raw whole milk would be the best choice. In raw (unpasteurized) milk there will be healthy
flora, and more active forms of immune agents. In organic milk there are fewer antibiotic residues, no added
hormones, and cows are given better feeds. It is not true that raw milk contains helpful lactase enzyme. Only
curdled or other high-bacteria versions will contain some; produced by the bacteria. Commercial raw milks can
contain a leukemia virus, but this virus cannot perpetuate among drug-free raw milk cow sources. Goat's milk
is considered by many to be superior in many ways. Much less documented information is available about goat's
milk, but it appears that the proteins are less problematic for digestion, although allergic intolerance to
these can also occur. Lactose and natural hormones remain issues in goat milk although, to date, goats
apparently are not injected with extra growth hormone.
Although it was apparent from day one that formula was a health risk for infants, back when it was first
promoted, cow's milk for older children appeared to be a nutritional manna. And with one or two glasses a day
from a healthy, range-fed animal, it likely nearly was. Since this time, however, the quality of dairy has
drastically reduced while its consumption has explodedů with a massive amount of advertising help. The
evidence suggesting that the early faith in milk was misplaced has been building up for decades. The dairy
industry has had to take increasingly extreme efforts to keep this information out of public awareness.
I have only touched on the tip of the existing evidence against the health claims of the milk industry
promoters. Since our childhood, the dairy industry has worked hard to have dairy products enshrined in a food
group of their own. Even though they were given their own space in the new Eating Right food pyramid, they
found themselves placed in a small upper portion and have lobbied to have the pyramid withdrawn.2 Many
nutrition experts such as Harvard's Dr. Walter Willett3 suggest they should not be a featured group in the
pyramid at all. The dairy industry has also successfully convinced many vegetarians that milk from cows is a
vegetarian food. Since few substantiated health claims can be made anymore, the milk industry's most recent
promotion has recently been to simply show their product on the upper lip of celebrities of all kinds, even
those who are dairy-allergic (Bill Clinton), and even on those who are too young to be consuming whole milk
(the Rugrats). Before this promo, it was simply "Got milk?" While an ever-growing preponderance of
scientific information points to the dangers of cow's milk, favorable public and even mainstream medical
opinion about dairy products has been very successfully maintained.
Knowing and avoiding the potentially harmful effects that high dairy consumption and milk-sensitivity
reactions can have on your child is just as important and loving as nursing, close bonding, and informed
health care decisions. What we feed our children matters; how we parent them matters. These measures will lead
to the best health, comfort and happiness available to a child. Parents have the power to create and enjoy
healthier, happier children with brighter futures.
Far more information on the dangers of cow's milk, with over 100 science journal references, can be found
in Dr. Linda Palmer's book: The Baby
Bond: The New Science Behind What's Really Important When Caring for Your Baby.