The health ministries director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in New Zealand has issued an alert to parents not to feed goat’s milk to infants.
Adrielle Carrasco is concerned that some new parents may be following advice found on websites and social media, which may be well-meaning, but can be detrimental to a baby’s health.
“Homemade formula recipes routinely make the rounds on social media and healthy lifestyle blogs. Yet there remain serious, documented concerns about the safety of using these types of breastmilk substitutes,” Mrs Carrasco said.
New Zealand GP Katie Fourie, who has a special interest in breastfeeding, said the assertion that goat’s milk is closer to human milk is unfounded.
In fact, according to Dr Fourie, other mammal milks have more similar levels of protein, lactose and fat, however these milks will still be deficient in iron, folate, vitamins C and D, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid—elements essential to meeting an infant’s nutritional needs.
“Not only is a homemade formula (whether made from raw cow’s or goat’s milk) inappropriate nutritionally,” she said, “but, more worrying, it can lead to serious illness and even death.”
Medical experts recommend that those having trouble with breastfeeding should see a lactation consultant. Advice can also be sought from local breastfeeding associations and support groups.
In cases where supplementary feeds are required, the World Health Organisation recommends the mother’s own expressed breastmilk or human milk sourced from a milk bank as the third choice. Only when those two options are unavailable would the next recommendation be commercially-prepared breastmilk substitutes.
“We must acknowledge that commercial formula has limitations,” Dr Fourie said. “Human milk is uniquely designed to meet the needs of baby humans and that is very difficult to replace. The decision to use a breastmilk substitute should not be made lightly.”