Doctor: Don’t rely only on milk for kids’ nutrients


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital says it’s seeing several children each year experiencing sometimes severe anemia caused by drinking too much milk.

Dr. Bill Bush, the pediatrician-in-chief at the children’s hospital, says the problems generally come in two forms.

“Cow’s milk can be introduced too early and that can cause a problem,” he explained. “But then the bigger issue is having too much milk between that transition of being done breastfeeding and the age of 2 or 3.”

Milk contains lots of good things like protein and calcium, but one thing it doesn’t have much of is iron.

“So when kids are, instead of eating a properly balanced food, they’re drinking milk as their nutrients, they start to quickly lose that iron store in their body and become anemic,” Bush said.

He said that can lead to bigger problems:

“If you have low amount of those red blood cells carrying oxygen to your tissues, including your brain, it starts to affect your cognitive development,” he said.

He said the condition has landed some toddlers in intensive care.

“(Their parents) are very surprised because they think milk’s great. ‘Why can’t I give my kid milk?'” Bush said.

Children between the ages of 1 and 2 should be having between 8 and 20 ounces of milk per day. The problems happen when children drink much more than that. Toddlers coming into the children’s hospital ER are sometimes drinking between 20 and 40 ounces a day.

“We really talk about doing milk with meals. Milk with breakfast, milk with lunch, milk with dinner and most kids aren’t going to finish that milk anyway,” Bush said.

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