Drinking dairy-free milk could cause kids to be shorter
Drinking dairy-free milk could cause kids to be shorter
Stephen Chernin Getty Images
09 June, 2017, 02:44
Children who drink soy, rice or almond milk may end up shorter than children given cow's milk, a new study suggests.
Mr Maguire said: 'If products are being marketed as being equivalent to cow's milk, as a consumer and a parent, I would like to know that they are in fact the same in terms of their effect on children's growth'. The height difference for a three-year-old who drank three cups of non-cow's milk compared to three cups of cow's milk per day was 1.5 centimetres, according to the study.
According to researchers, each cup of alternative milk drunk is linked to 0.15 inches lower height than the average for a child's age, CNN reports.
Lanou would tell parents who are already giving plant-based milks to their children not to worry - but to make sure their kids are getting enough protein from other sources throughout the day.
Dr Maguire said: "Height is an important indicator of children's overall health and development".
Parents are encouraged to give their children milk to drink to boost their growth, but a certain kind of milk could be doing the opposite. "If they're making the claim that it's because it's the difference in the types of milk the kids are drinking, well, what else are they eating?"
The study did not examine why drinking non-cow's milk reduces children's height.
The study is limited in a number of ways, most importantly in that it is observational and can not prove that drinking one type of milk over the other causes an increase or decrease in a child's height. "However, non-cow's milk contains less protein and fat than cow's milk and may not have the same effect on height". 5% of them drank non-cow's milk and 84% drank only cow's milk, 8% drank both and about 3% drank neither.
Macguire said that while the shorter children may catch up, children tend to track along whatever growth trajectory they tend to be on, so that the height differences might amplify over time.
Yet, the researchers speculate that youngsters who have non-cow's milk may consume less protein and fat, resulting in reduced growth.
Researchers studied more than 5,000 kids between the ages of two and six. On the other hand, two cups of almond milk contain only four grams of protein.
The shift towards purchasing non-cow's milk has been relatively recent, therefore little research is available on the impact this has on children's growth, Mr Maguire said. This makes it hard for the average consumer to understand the pros and cons of choosing non-cow's milk over cow's milk for their child.
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