Breast milk has all the nutrition a baby needs to healthily grow and develop, yet cow’s milk is used as the basis for almost all infant formula. Since cow’s milk is designed for calves and breast milk is designed for human infants, it is no surprise that cow’s milk and breast milk are quite different. Here are some facts about cow’s milk and infant nutrition:
1. Human breast milk is designed to be the sole source of nutrition for an infant. Cow’s milk is meant to be the sole source of nutrition for a calf.
2. Cow’s milk serves as the nutritional backbone of standard formulas, making up 95% of their composition.
3. Cow’s milk does not meet the nutritional requirements of a human infant, so it must be heavily fortified to provide the nutrients it lacks. If you feed an infant exclusively cow’s milk, he/she will be severely malnourished.
4. Cow’s milk contains three major allergenic proteins: αS1-Casein, αS2-Casein, and β-Lactoglobulin. These allergenic proteins are not present in human breast milk.
5. Studies show that over 17% of babies will suffer allergic reactions and negative side effects from consuming cow’s milk formula.
6. Cow’s milk has a roughly 80:20 casein:whey protein ratio. To fit an infant’s changing nutritional needs, breast milk starts at a 20:80 casein:whey ratio at birth, and then moves to 50:50 as the baby grows.
7. Although cow’s milk and breast milk share some of the same proteins, the bovine versions and the human versions of these proteins can differ significantly
8. The overall makeup of cow’s milk and breast milk is quite different. Human milk is made up of about 4% fats, 7% sugars, and 1% protein, with the rest being water. Cow’s milk is made up of about 4% fat, 4.5% sugars, and 3.3% proteins, with the rest being water. Although these differences seem small, they have quite a large impact on the overall nutrition of the milk.
Learn more about cow’s milk and how Harmony is changing the infant formula game by replacing cow’s milk with human breast milk components in our page Cow’s Milk is for Calves.