Q&A: Clarification On Cow's Milk In Baby Formula | The Paleo Diet®
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Q&A: Clarification On Cow's Milk In Baby Formula

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Founder of The Paleo Diet
January 16, 2013
Q&A: Clarification On Cow's Milk In Baby Formula image

My wife and I started eating Paleo about 9 months go. I really enjoyed your most recent book and bought extra copies to give to friends and coworkers. In your most recent book you mentioned that they stopped putting cow's milk in baby formula in the 1980's due colic (pg 98).

When I mentioned this to my brother he showed me that milk was still the first ingredient in his babies formula which was a major name brand. I was just wondering where you got the information that milk is no longer in baby formula?


Dr. Cordain's Response:

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for you kind words and support of the Paleo Diet. Also, thanks for bringing this issue to my attention. I'll post my comment on my blog to clarify the statement (p 98) in my book which was:

"You may ask why this information is relevant in 2011 when cow's milk-based formula is no longer commercially available, and no pediatrician in his/her right mind would recommend giving cow's milk to your infant".

This statement is somewhat misleading as it currently reads and needs a caveat to be completely correct. Pure, unadulterated cow's milk is unsuitable as an infant formula for a variety of reasons, but the most important is that the casein (a protein) content of cow's milk is much too high and the whey (another protein) is too low which puts a strain on the infant's kidney and additionally may cause intestinal bleeding. Starting in the 1920s and 30s evaporated cow's milk began to be used in infant formulas and became the most popular formula protein ingredient by the 1950's . Many of these early formulas made no attempt reduce the casein content of evaporated cow's milk and increase the whey content. By the 1970's evaporated milk formulas were almost totally replaced by commercial cow milk formulas in which the casein to whey ratio was altered to approximate human milk. So to clarify my statement, pure, unadulterated cow's milk is no longer used in infant formulas, however cow's milk in which the casein to whey ratio has been altered represent the most common protein source in commercially available infant formulas.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus


Brady JP. Marketing breast milk substitutes: problems and perils throughout the world. Arch Dis Child. 2012 Jun;97(6):529-32.

Castilho SD, Barros Filho AA. The history of infant nutrition. J Pediatr (Rio J). 2010 May-Jun;86(3):179-88.

Koletzko B. Innovations in infant milk feeding: from the past to the future. Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2010;66:1-17

Stevens EE, Patrick TE, Pickler R. A History of Infant Feeding. J Perinat Educ. 2009 Spring;18(2):32-39.

Aaron's Response:

Loren, thanks for getting back to me so quickly. My wife and I are distance runners and have been doing great on the diet. While following the diet I ran PR's in 10k-Marathon on the diet, running a 2:55 marathon at Twin Cities in October. My wife has taken 9 minutes off her Half Marathon, running a 1:43 in October. Your new book took us to a new level of Paleo and we have been fine tuning our diets to get the best results. I had IBS for 15 years and it has almost completely gone away. My wife had persistent acne and intestinal bloating that is now gone. Thank you!

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