Increases in digestive issues, particularly reflux, in young children and babies, is a cause for concern for many new parents. Many find themselves at a loss when it comes to how to best select a formula to help prevent these challenging problems.
What many parents don’t know is that when it comes to reflux, up to half of all cases in children under age one may be due to cow’s milk allergy . In addition, in the U.S., the most common allergy in children under age three is to cow’s milk. As a result, a growing number of parents have been looking to goat’s milk formula as an alternative to cow’s milk-based formulas to help address what may be a main underlying cause of pain and distress in many children.
The likelihood of a child developing an allergy to cow’s milk is increased even further in children whose parents have allergies. Only twelve per cent of children with no family history of allergy will develop allergies themselves, whereas 30% to 50% of children who have one parent with allergies, and a whopping 60% to 80% of children who have two parents with allergies, will develop allergies as well . Considering the serious symptoms that may develop as a result of a cow’s milk allergy (which include vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes and in rare case anaphylaxis), many parents are realizing that a goat milk-based formula is the better and safer option for their child’s health.
So why is goat’s milk so much easier on the gastrointestinal and immune systems than cow’s milk? One reason is that cow’s milk contains high levels of a protein known as Alpha s1 Casein, and levels of this protein in goat’s milk are about 90% less, making it much less allergenic.
Another health benefit of goat’s milk is also one of the major benefits of breast milk; it contains numerous prebiotic oligosaccharides, five of which are also found in human milk. According to a recent study, the prebiotic oligosaccharides in goat milk formula help promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut, making it the better choice for babies .
In addition, like breast milk (but unlike cow’s milk), goat’s milk does not typically undergo homogenization, a process used to suspend the cream in the milk. This process, which forces fluid milk through a tiny hole under pressure to destroy the fat globule cell wall, causes a release of superoxide (a free radical that causes cell damage). In goat’s milk, the smaller fat globules and levels of medium chain fatty acids means a larger surface-to-volume ratio and faster and easier digestion, much like with breast milk. Plus, the goat milk proteins denature in the stomach, and form a much softer curd than cow’s milk allowing for easier digestion than with cow’s milk. In light of these benefits, it is easy to see why goat milk formula is the choice made by more and more parents looking for the best option for their baby’s health and comfort.
- Vandenplas, Y. (2002). Gastroesophageal Reflux and Cow Milk Allergy: Is There a Link? Pediatrics, 110, 972-984. doi:10.1542/peds.110.5.972
- Chad, Z. (2001). Allergies in children. Paediatr Child Health, 6(8), 555-566. doi:10.1093/pch/6.8.555