Milk and children

Alternative names
Cow’s milk and children


Although some have raised controversy about the safety of cow’s milk for children, there is no conclusive evidence that it is unsafe for this age group. Cow’s milk is not recommended, however, for infants less than 1 year old. Even though, many baby formulas are based on cow’s milk, it has been altered significantly to contain similar proportions and amounts of carbohydrate, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals as human breast milk. The types of fat have also been changed.

If your child cannot tolerate lactose (milk sugar) or galactose (one of the two sugars that makes up lactose), or if your child has a milk allergy, soy formula will be recommended by the pediatrician. About half of the infants who have an allergy to milk also have an allergy to soy, in which case a specialized formula will be prescribed. Many children outgrow these allergies or intolerances by the time they are one year old. However, children with one food allergy are at greater risk for developing others.

Many infant formulas are fortified with iron to promote growth and development and to prevent iron deficiency anemia.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Mamikon Bozoyan, M.D.

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