JERUSALEM, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- Israeli researchers at Tel Aviv University said drinking cow's milk early on can protect a child from milk allergies later in life.
Professor Yitzhak Katz and his team at TAU's Department of Pediatrics at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine checked more than 13, 000 infants. The results showed babies receiving infant formula containing cow's milk during their first 15 days of life seem to be protected from developing Cow's Milk Protein Allergy (CMA) later on.
"And the sooner, the better. If you start drinking cow's milk protein daily immediately after birth, the chances of developing an allergy to it later are close to zero," Katz told Xinhua.
The study focused on the feeding history of 13,019 infants at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center near Tel Aviv, and was the longest and most extensive of its kind every done.
Infants started on formula with cow's milk protein in the first 15 days of life were almost completely protected from developing CMA than babies fed cow's milk protein after the first two weeks of life.
CMA can lead to rashes, respiratory problems, shock and even death in babies. The boost to the immune system early in life acts as a "vaccination," said the researchers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) currently recommends that a woman switch from breast to bottle at the three-to-five month period -- precisely the worst period to expose a baby to cow's milk, according to Katz's findings.
He suggested waiting until the child is one year old to introduce cow's milk into the diet, if the child had not been fed cows milk within the first two weeks after birth.
"The WHO looks at a lot of factors -- not necessarily allergies; allergies are important but not the only factors out there," Katz said, adding it could be that "they are right -- as far as other benefits go."
Katz suggested a single bottle-feed at night, although he said more conclusive studies are needed to narrow down the exact amounts and feeding schedule.
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology published the researcher's results in July.