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Cow's milk may be hazardous for babies.

While cow's milk is great for calves, it is not necessarily the best food for our babies. Two recent studies link components found in cow's milk to health concerns in human babies. A study by researchers at the University of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children raises the possibility that many cases of juvenile insulin-dependent diabetes may be triggered by an immune response to proteins in cow's milk in infants who are genetically disposed to the disease. And a study by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis links colic to a cow antibody in milk that is passed on through either the mother's breast milk or formula. Dr. Hans-Michael Dosch, senior investigator on the diabetes study, said studies involving almost 400 children with juvenile-onset diabetes indicated that an immunologic reaction to a protein in cow's milk appeared to be a factor in developing the disease in a majority of cases. Said Dr. Dosch, "Based on our results, we think it's too early to make any general recommendations about avoiding cow's milk without further study. But you are safe in recommending breast feeding for as long as possible before going to formula because studies clearly show that breast feeding reduces the risk of developing diabetes two to three fold in those disposed to the disease." Researchers said there were probably other yet-to-be discovered environmental factors, including food composition, common chemical substances and disease organisms, that also set off immune system reactions that could lead to juvenile diabetes.

In the colic study, the breast milk of mothers with colicky babies contained high levels of the cow antibody, a component of the protein found in cow's milk, while the milk of mothers whose babies did not have colic had low levels. None of the babies whose mothers had undetectable or low levels of the antibody had colic, according to the study. Dr. Anthony Kulczycki, Jr., associate professor of medicine, suggests taking mothers with colicky babies off milk and dairy products for at least 7-14 days, obtaining calcium instead through supplements and other food sources.

--Information from "Protein in Cow Milk May Set Off Juvenile Diabetes" by Warren E. Leary in The New York Times, July 1992 and "Cow Antibody in Milk May Cause Colic" in Texas Midwifery, Spring, 1992.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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