Kenya: Nutritionists Say Cow Milk Not Good for Infants Less Than One Year Old

Bottles of pumped breast milk (file photo).
10 August 2020

Nutritionist have warned against feeding cow milk to infants aged less than a year as it increases the rate of diseases in children.

As the world marked breastfeeding week, the Nutrition Association of Kenya said children do not have the enzymes to breakdown cow milk like they would breast milk.

According to the associations chairman Henry Ng'ethe, cow milk contains a high concentration of protein that overworks the kidneys that are maturing.

Breast milk, he said, is easy on a child's kidney and other vital organs.

"Iron is a mineral found in breast milk and helps an infant to make haemoglobin which carries oxygen around the body as well as aid in development of neurological system in infancy," noted Mr Ng'ethe.

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union Central Region Secretary-General Goody Gor said only three out five children are breastfed.

Infant diseases

She noted that most infant diseases are as a result of inadequate breastfeeding, adding that only 41 per cent of babies are breastfed.

"Mixed feeding is on the rise leading to numerous diseases among infants such as diabetes, rickets, atopic dermatitis among others," she said.

Dr Gor added that the rise is a consequence of modernising motherhood due to work pressures, stress or lack of knowledge.

Further, the Kenya Nutritionists Association said cow milk is deficient in iron that is required for synthesis of blood, muscles and other tissues.

The protein present in cow milk, Mr Ng'ethe said, irritates the lining of the digestive system which causes blood in the stool, something which occurs in 40 per cent of infants.

"The consequence is that the infant suffers from iron deficiency, anaemia and severe dehydration," he said.

He added that the fore and hind breast milk is important in nurturing the infant and developing its immune system.

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