Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I was doing research on starting whole milk before age 1 and this is something I ran across. Pay close attention to the last sentence. Very interesting...

"The Canadian Paediatric Society says it’s fine to introduce cow’s milk between nine and 12 months of age. However, in the US and some other countries, the official advice is to wait for at least a year. Why are the guidelines different from those in Canada?

“The main concern is about iron deficiency, and that problem starts in the early months of a baby’s life,” explains Robert Issenman, chief of paediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton. “When babies under six months or so are fed regular cow’s milk, they have minute amounts of blood loss in the GI tract. This blood loss makes them likely to become anemic. By nine months, drinking regular cow’s milk no longer causes this bleeding.”

Anemia develops most often when parents who are not breastfeeding find formula too expensive, so they buy ordinary milk for their young baby.

“A recommendation that babies not drink cow’s milk until they are a year old won’t change what those families are doing, so it won’t solve the problem of anemia,” Issenman says. The advice will be followed by those families who are already breastfeeding or giving formula until their babies are nine months old — and for those babies, it will not make any difference in the rates of anemia.

This recommendation does help in the US, Issenman notes, because a government program provides subsidized formula for a year for babies who are not breastfed. This can be important because the subsidy isn’t enough to purchase all the formula a baby needs, and parents sometimes give regular cow’s milk when the formula runs out.

Why don’t we have a similar program in Canada? “We have a different philosophy here,” says Issenman. “The concern has been that if we offer free or subsidized formula, it might persuade women not to breastfeed, or to wean early.” A 2004 study in Pediatrics did find that program families were less likely to breastfeed than families with similar low incomes who didn’t sign up. More than half of the formula sold in the US is distributed through the program."


  1. That's interesting. The reason I've always heard is because of milk allergies. La Leche League claims that "as much as seventy percent of children develop a milk allergy if they start drinking milk before they are one year old." It also has a really different protein/carb makeup than human milk.

  2. That's interesting. I've always just heard it's because of allergies. La Leche League claims that "perhaps as much as seventy percent of children develop a milk allergy if they start drinking milk before they are one year old." And it has a totally different protein/carb makeup than human milk.

    The real question, though, is why do Canadians sell their milk in bags? :-)

  3. I know. I have looked into all of it. Everyone says something different. I personally think it is the formula companies saying it. My Ped even told me ok, under the table of course. I just thought it was interesting that more than 1/2 the formula in the US is distributing through medicaid (I assume that is the program they are referring to.) One of my recommendation for medicaid is to make it mandatory for the mom to breast feed for at least 8 weeks - barring any medical problems of course. Never fly though. Too prescriptive! ;-) Heaven forbid I would get to tell someone using my money what to do! OK, enough soap box! ;-)

  4. Yeah... it's hard being a parent and having so much information to wade through! Ultimately, though, you have to go with your gut and do what you think is right. (which I know you will do!)

  5. Ahh, you have such faith in me!!