Is Goats' Milk Safe For My Baby?
Updated: Sep 11, 2018
I treated a baby recently recently who’s parents were distraught with her colic symptoms.
We changed her from her normal formula milk (hydrolised aptomil) to Nanny’s Goats' milk formula and her symptoms were 90% improved within 24 hours. I observe this response almost daily in my patients.
The following week the mother mentioned to me that she was concerned about using goats' milk as she had been told by her GP that it was not a good idea.
I have had quite a few mothers mention this to me so thought I would do my own research and get the facts clear for you.
When you ‘google’ "Is Goats' milk safe for babies" it’s quite concerning what you find. All sorts of scarey theories and reasons to avoid it.
However, on closer inspection, all the objections I found online were very old articles and papers. The historical concerns appear to have been mainly centred around the nutritional contents of goats milk being inadequate for babies.
But Medicine moves on very fast, and advice changes. What are the facts today?
I am a fact-based person, and have very little tolerance for reading people's 'opinions' on subjects as important as this. I grew tired very quickly of all the scare-mongering in my online search and decided to go straight to the UK Government guidelines to clear this all up.
What is the NHS advising mothers now regarding goats' milk formula? (1)
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY...THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH GUIDELINES: (2)
The European Commission Directive on Infant Formulae and Follow-on Formulae and the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) Regulations (2007) were changed to allow goats’ milk protein in infant formula and follow-on formula from March 2014.
You can read this report here
This is a quote from the report:
Goats’ milk protein based infant formula
"Goats’ milk based infant milks were excluded from the European Commission Directive on Infant Formulae and Follow-on Formulae in 2006, on the basis of original recommendations made by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA, 2006). In 2012, EFSA revised their conclusion on the suitability of goats’ milk as a protein source for infant and follow-on formula milks.
EFSA concluded that protein from goats’ milk can be suitable as a protein source for infant and follow-on formula provided the final product complies with the compositional criteria laid down in recommendations (EFSA, 2012). Details of how the formula made from the goats’ milk protein used in the trial assessed by EFSA was made and differences between goats’ and cows’ milk in terms of protein composition are provided in that paper (EFSA, 2012)."
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) 'Guidelines To Nurses Caring For Infants And Mothers' states that; (3)
" Current legislation provides specific criteria for the levels of macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrate and energy) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) which should be present in infant milk. The legislation allows first milks (and also follow-on formulae) to be based on cow’s milk, goat’s milk or soy protein."
You can read the complete RCN Guidelines here
All manufacturers of formula feed are now bound by strict regulations set by the Department of Health, and the amounts of nutrients their formulas must contain.
No goats' milk or cows' milk formula can be released onto the UK market for sale without abiding by these regulations:
So the advice has moved on it seems, and goats' milk formula is deemed nutritionally equal to cow’s milk formula, and safe from birth by the NHS and the European Food Safety Authority.
I compared the nutritional contents of Nanny’s Goats' milk formula and Cow & Gate Cows' milk formula. Here’s what I found:
Cow & Gate ingredients
So this argument appears to be resolved in the formula feeds now. There is no difference.
I looked into this for fresh milk, as many mothers choose to move onto fresh milk after 1 year.
The European Commission Directive advises that whole goats milk is safe and nutritionally acceptable for children over 12 months old.
However, for babies younger than 12 months, whole fresh Goats' milk or Cows' milk is not advised. Only formula goats' milk or cows' milk is appropriate:
According to Dr Axe, full goats' milk, when compared to cows milk contains: (4)
13% more calcium
25% more B6
47% more Vit. A
134% more potassium.
The FAT factor
Goats' milk contains smaller fat globules - making it easier to digest. (5)
The CALCIUM factor
Many Mums worry that there may not be enough calcium in goats' milk. The fact is the complete opposite! Goats milk contains MORE calcium than cows' milk!
The PROTEIN factor
I'm so confused Google... Many of the arguments I have read online suggest that goats' milk is too high in protein.... and yet a patient's mother today told me that her GP advised her against using goats milk for her 2 year old because there is not ENOUGH protein content.
Eyes Roll. Shoulder shrug. Hands raised in the air in confusion.
SO what are the facts?
In a 1 cup of milk, Cows milk contains 8g and Goats milk contains 9g of protein.
So goats' milk is a good source of protein!
THIS IS WHERE MY INVESTIGATIONS GOT INTERESTING...
What is important when considering the protein content of goats' milk is the TYPE of protein - which is a very good difference.
Let’s talk about this.
Rather than Lactose intolerance, the more common cause of irritation to babies from milk is due to the protein Casein.
There are 2 types of casein: A1 & A2. Some people lack the ability to digest A1 Casein. This can cause allergic reactions, including inflammation, affecting anything from IBS and leaky gut, to acne and autoimmune diseases. (4)
Human breast milk contains only A2 casein.
Cows' milk contains A1 casein.
Goats' milk contains A2 casein, and significantly less A1 casein.
This makes goats' milk, protein-wise, much closer to breast milk than cows' milk is. (6)
The protein composition of goats' milk also allows it to form a softer curd during digestion, making it easier to digest. (7)
It is actually possible to buy A2 Milk - taken from cows that do not produce A1 casein. (Jersey cows and Guernsey cows). (8) You can buy this from Tesco!
Clearing up the the ‘Allergy’ / ‘Intolerance’ factor
One of the commonest reasons parents consider goats' milk as an alternative to cow’s milk is due to what is commonly known as ‘lactose intolerance’.
Lactose is a naturally occuring sugar present in milk & dairy products.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest this sugar lactose. Normally the gut will produce an enzyme called ‘Lactase’ that will break down this sugar. Lactose intolerance occurs when someone doesn’t produce enough lactase enzyme, and instead of being broken down and absorbed, Lactose sits undigested in the gut, and is broken down by bacteria, producing gas, bloating, stomach cramps and diarrhoea. (9)
Lactose is also present in goats' milk. But it is present is smaller amounts than in cows milk. (7)
So switching to goats' milk will not necessarily assist with a child who is lactose intolerant as much as you would hope.
Here’s the point that interests me most:
During the course of my research for this blog, I discovered the following fact:
“Lactose intolerance can be temporary due to antibiotic use, as some anti-biotics interfere with the intestine’s ability to produce lactase.” (9)
This is somthing that rings very true to me after my own personal experience of working with colicky babies for over a decade. Anti-biotics destroy not only the ‘bad’ bacteria, but also the ‘good’ digestive bacteria present in the gut.
Without digestive bacteria, babies will struggle to digest anything - regardless of what milk you give them.
The natural digestive bacteria doesn’t automatically recolonise after a course of AB’s, And can remain defficient for years and years, developing constipation and eventually malabsorption problems. Re-colonising the intestines with bacteria is like growing yoghurt - you have to introduce a culture first. This is what a course of 'Probiotics' does. It gives the gut a culture to multiply. Probiotics are not a drug. They are live bacteria. Completely safe and completely ‘normal’. Nothing to be afraid of. What is not normal, is destroying the natural digestive bacterial colony with AB’s.
So in your efforts to resolve your child’s ‘colic’, I suggest considering a course of probiotics (www.biocare.co.uk) if your child has been exposed to anti-biotics, as well as a change of milk formula.
So from everything I have read and researched, I conclude that:
Goats' milk is:
A good protein source
Easier to digest
Less allergenic (10)
Contains more calcium than milk
Contains less Lactose
Equal to cows milk in nutritional value.
My conclusion is that goats' milk formula is completely safe for babies and children. For colicky babies it may be a much better option than cows' milk formula due to the lower lactose and lower A1 casein content. For Mums still not sure, perhaps A2 cows' milk would be a good alternative to normal cows' milk for children over 1 year old.
Hope this helps!
References; ( Nb. links do not work on a mobile phone - only a desktop/laptop)
2. The European Commission Directive on Infant Formulae and Follow-on Formulae
5. [Attaie R and Richter RL (2000). Size distribution of fat globules in goat milk. J Dairy Sci 83: 940-944]
6. Composition of goat and cow milk produced under similar conditions and analyzed by identical methodology [Journal of Food Composition and Analysis
Volume 22, Issue 4, June 2009,]
10. Goat milk is less immunogenic than cow milk in a murine model of atopy. [J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2004 Oct;39(4):354-60.]
11. First Steps Nutrition Trust