Getting mom’s milk is extremely important for babies. It is not only nutrition, but also immunity benefits and ability to heal and recover quicker. However, a lot of babies are nowadays fed with formula. It is a convenient way to maintain a healthy and growing child. Now scientists say that switching to goat milk formula could bring significant benefits.
The usual formula is based on cow’s milk. And that’s not a terrible thing – people have been drinking cow’s milk for ages. However, scientists from RMIT University in Australia decided to analyse a couple of types of commercial goat milk formula. They paid attention to probiotic properties, especially oligosaccharides – a type of prebiotic that can boost the growth of beneficial bacteria. Scientists found 14 of oligosaccharides in goat milk formula and 5 of them are also present in human breast milk. This means that goat milk formula has strong prebiotic and anti-infection properties, similar to those of human breast milk.
The best finding in this study is that prebiotic oligosaccharides, which are effective at selectively promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, are present in goat milk formula. Of course, it is still not as good as natural human milk, which contains an abundant supply and diverse array of oligosaccharides. However, breastfeeding is not even an option for some new moms and in other cases it might be insufficient. That is why scientists would recommend choosing goat milk formula – while cow milk formula is more popular, goat milk is considered to be closer to human milk in some respects, especially oligosaccharides.
Two types of oligosaccharides – fucosylated and sialylated – were most heavily present in the goat milk formula. Professor Harsharn Gill, lead investigator in the study, said: “Fucosylated are the most abundant oligosaccharides in human milk and are the focus of significant commercial and regulatory interest. These oligosaccharides have been shown to play a significant role in anti-infection properties of breast milk”. Therefore, it is a good substitute when real breast milk is not available.
There is a problem, however – goat milk formula is significantly more expensive and sometimes harder to find. This could present an opportunity to manufacturers – if the demand for goat milk formula increases, the supply diversity should grow as well, which would eventually bring the price down. However, we will have to wait to see this happen.