Link between feeding infants with cow's milk and weight gain

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Babies who are mainly fed cow’s milk from eight months are more likely to become overweight as children, new research finds.

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Feeding babies under a year mainly cow's milk can lead to a child becoming overweight, researchers claim

The Children of the 90s project study compared the weights of babies fed cow’s milk with those who were fed breast and formula milk.

Both the type of milk and the amount were found to produce significant differences in weight. 

Those children who were fed 600ml (just over a pint) or more of cow’s milk each day at eight months put on weight faster on average and had a higher BMI than breastfed children, right up to the age of ten.

Similarly, babies fed 600ml or more of formula milk each day were on average heavier than breastfed babies up until two- and-a half years old.

The findings back up official Department of Health guidelines saying babies should not be given cow’s milk as their main drink before a year old.

Out of the 1,112 children surveyed, 141 were breastfed, 824 were formula-fed, and 147 were given cow’s milk as their only milk drink at the age of eight months.

David Hopkins, specialist paediatric dietician at Southampton Children’s Hospital and joint research lead, said, ‘This research clearly shows the benefits of breastfeeding and where necessary, appropriate formula feeding during late infancy as opposed to using unsuitable alternatives such as cow’s milk.’

‘It should help to provide further guidance to mothers and health professionals alike regarding the type and volume of milk necessary in late infancy and early childhood to optimise a child’s nutritional state.’

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