Infants who drink cows milk: A cohort study


Professor Colin Binns, School of Public Health, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia. Fax: +61 89266 2958; email:


Aim:  The aim of this study was to document current practice in an Australia city regarding the introduction of whole cows milk to children under the age of 12 months.

Methods:  A cohort study of mothers and infants, recruited at birth was undertaken in Perth, Australia. A total of 587 mothers were interviewed on seven occasions over a period of 12 months using a structured questionnaire. At each interview infant feeding methods were recorded in detail. At 12 months 453 mothers (78%) remained in the study.

Results:  In this study the median age of introduction of cows milk was 41.5 weeks, a behaviour that has not changed in the past 8 years. Infants who were given solids earlier than 4 months were more likely to be introduced to cows milk before 12 months (odds ratio (OR) 2.06, confidence interval (CI) 1.4–3.1). Mothers who had a lower score on the IOWA Infant Feeding Attitudes Scale were more likely to give cows milk earlier (OR 1.83, CI 1.21–1.77). Where fathers did not support breastfeeding or were ambivalent infants were more likely to be given cows milk (OR 1.70, CI 1.23–2.58)

Conclusions:  Despite recommendations that cows milk should not be given before 12 months of age, the majority of infants were given cows milk before this age. This suggests the need for further education programs.