What is it about Cow’s Milk that Causes Constipation in Children?

What is it about Cow’s Milk that Causes Constipation in Children?

What is it about Cow's Milk that Causes Constipation in Children?

Many studies have illustrated the ability of cow’s milk to produce constipation in children, and it is a known allergen. University and Health Department researchers from Australia recently investigated cow’s milk and proved once again that feeding children homogenized, pasteurized milk can produce constipation. Meanwhile other studies show that dairy with probiotics can actually relieve constipation. What is going on here?

The researchers tested 13 children in one trial and 39 children in a second trial. The average age of the children was about 6 and a half year’s old. All the children were diagnosed with having chronic constipation (diagnosis = Chronic Functional Constipation).

In the first trial, nine children were given soy milk instead of cow’s milk and the others continued the cow’s milk. This followed a period where no milk was fed to the children (washout period).

All the children given the soymilk all had a resolution of their constipation. This also occurred in the washout period.

These results were confirmed using a crossover design, which allowed each group to reverse their protocol after another washout period.

The second trial also tested for casein type – using A1 milk or A2 milk type casein. The results determined that there was little difference between the two milks given – they both showed increased constipation compared to the washout period – when milk was withheld from their diets.


Due to the casein study, the researchers concluded that there was likely something else other than casein that was causing the constipation. In their conclusion they wrote:

The results of Trial 1 demonstrate an association between constipation and cow’s milk consumption while trial 2 failed to show an effect from type of casein. Some other component in cow’s milk common to both A1 and A2 milk may be causing a problem in these susceptible children. Investigations into the immunological or biochemical mechanism occurring in CFC are required, including investigations of the intolerance reactions and how they affect nerves in the gastrointestinal tract.”

Meanwhile, a number of studies have shown that dairy-fermented probiotics actually can relieve constipation.

In one, from Emma Children’s Hospital/Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, twenty children with an average age of a little over seven years old found that a daily dose of dairy-fermentedBifidobacterium breve significantly increased bowel movements and significantly decreased abdominal pain among the children.

Another children’s study – this also using twenty constipated children – found those given a daily mixture of probiotics including Bifidobacteria bifidum, B. infantis, B. longum, Lactobacilli casei, L. plantarum and L. rhamnosus, also experienced significantly increased bowel movements and a resolution to their constipation.

In addition to this, several studies on adults have found that yogurt or milk fermented with probiotics can significantly reduce constipation.

Because breast milk and raw milk of various types naturally contain probiotics, and since constipation has been specifically connected with drinking homogenized, pasteurized cow’s milk, we must assume that whatever the element is within homogenized, pasteurized cow’s milk that is causing the constipation, it is being neutralized by the probiotics within raw milks and yogurt products.

In fact, there is significant evidence to suspect that beta-lactoglobulin may be the culprit from milk that produces the constipation – although we probably still cannot completely eliminate the effects of casein. In fact, the A1 or A2 casein groups in the Australian study does not prove that casein is not involved. The researchers noted this clearly in their discussion:

It seems that it is not the β casein moiety, in cow’s milk that is causing constipation or if it is, it is not the section that differs between the A1 and A2 variants.”

And there is clear evidence that both beta-lactoglobulin and casein are both in fact neutralized – actually hydrolyzed – by probiotic species.

This means that these two large proteins – not only suspected as culprits in constipation, but also among milk allergies – are largely neutralized by probiotics. This explains why probiotic-supplemented milks or yogurts are curative for constipation.

And this is why raw milk that has been properly tested will likely not have the same effects as homogenized, pasteurized milk with regard to constipation and allergenicity. While this has not been studied directly, we can logically arrive at this conclusion using the evidence showing that yogurt and cow’s milk fermented with probiotics can resolve constipation.

When milk is pasteurized, the probiotics within the milk are killed and thus not given a chance to continue feeding on the milk’s sugars (yogurt is also naturally low in lactose). But this also means the probiotics will not be able to neutralize the milk proteins such as casein and beta-lactoglobulin within the pasteurized milk.

You can learn more about this article at: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/what-it-about-cows-milk-causes-constipation-children

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