Goat's milk

Is it OK to use goat’s milk?

There are major risks to giving goat’s milk to babies. It is not a replacement for breast milk or infant formula and should not be given to children under one year of age. Goat’s milk does not have enough of certain ingredients that babies need, such as iron, folic acid, and vitamin D. It is also too concentrated for a baby’s kidneys and may cause serious health problems. It should not be given to those who are allergic to cow's milk protein as such babies are also likely allergic to goat's milk. Goat's milk may be given occasionally to a child older than one year if it is fortified and pasteurized. Infant formula that is based on goat’s milk and modified to meet infant formula standards can be used for babies.

 

A) Risks of using goat’s milk for babies

Some infant formula companies use goat’s milk instead of cow's milk in the manufacture of infant formula. This can be given to babies as long as the formula meets infant formula standardsThis is different from goat’s milk.

Goat’s milk does not have enough of certain ingredients that babies need. These ingredients include (Turck 2013):

Goat’s milk is also harder on a baby’s kidneys.

Babies given goat's milk have developed (Basnet 2010):

  • Abnormal blood salt levels (metabolic acidosis)
  • Very low levels of iron in the blood (anemia)
  • Kidney disease
  • Stroke

Unpasteurized goat’s milk has the additional risk of infection.

Similarly, cow’s and other mammal’s milk have qualities making them unsuitable for babies (Verduci 2019).

B) Lack of benefit for babies allergic to cow’s milk protein

Babies and older children who are allergic to cow’s milk protein are also likely to be allergic to goat’s milk protein (Bellioni-Businco 1999; Infante Pina et al. 2003; Pessler and Nejat 2004). 

Some individuals can be allergic to goat’s milk protein and not be allergic to cow’s milk protein (Goh 2019; Muñoz Martín 2004).

C) When goat’s milk can be used

Goat’s milk is not a replacement for breast milk or infant formula. It should not be given to children under one year of age.

It may be given to a child over one year of age if it is:

  • Used as an occasional drink and a small part of the child’s diet.
  • Pasteurized.
  • Fortified.
  • Tolerated by the child.

References

Basnet S, Schneider M, Bazit A, et al. Fresh goat's milk for infants: myths and realities--a review. Pediatrics 2010;125(4)

Bellioni-Businco B, Paganelli R, Lucenti P, Giampietro PG, Perborn H, Businco L. Allergenicity of goat's milk in children with cow's milk allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999 Jun;103(6):1191-4 

Goh SH, Chong KW, Loh W, Goh AEN. Goat's milk anaphylaxis in a cow's milk tolerant child. Asia Pac Allergy. 2019 Oct 17;9(4):e34 

Infante Pina D, Tormo Carnice R, Conde Zandueta M. Use of goat's milk in patients with cow's milk allergy. [Article in Spanish] An Pediatr (Barc). 2003 Aug;59(2):138-42

Muñoz Martín T, de la Hoz Caballer B, Marañón Lizana F, González Mendiola R, Prieto Montaño P, Sánchez Cano M. Selective allergy to sheep's and goat's milk proteins. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2004 Jan-Feb;32(1):39-42  

Pessler F, Nejat M. Anaphylactic reaction to goat's milk in a cow's milk-allergic infant. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2004 Apr;15(2):183-5
 
Turck D. Cow's milk and goat's milk. World Rev Nutr Diet. 2013;108:56-62

Verduci E, D'Elios S, Cerrato L, et al. Cow's Milk Substitutes for Children: Nutritional Aspects of Milk from Different Mammalian Species, Special Formula and Plant-Based Beverages. Nutrients. 2019 Jul 27;11(8). pii: E1739