Babies and infants should not drink raw milk

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics published an article about consumption of raw milk products in the January 2014 edition of AAP News. In the article, the AAP recommended that infants, children and pregnant women should not drink raw milk or eat products made with raw milk because they can cause illness or death.

Finding raw milk products is becoming easier these days; they are in Farmer Markets, Organic Food Stores and on the Internet. Those consuming unpasteurized dairy products do so in an attempt to “go back to nature”, disregarding the risk for bacterial infections like Salmonella, E. Coli O157, Campylobacter, along with viruses and parasites.

There is one disease in particular pediatricians are very familiar with; it is called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), and it is caused by E. Coli O157. The bacteria makes toxins that go into the blood and cause destruction of red blood cells and kidney failure. Very young children suffer more severe consequences from HUS. It can be contracted by eating food contaminated with feces or drinking unpasteurized milk.

Reprinted from the American Academy of Pediatrics:


Milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream that are not pasteurized are considered raw milk products. Two people died and 195 went to the hospital after eating or drinking raw milk products between 1998 and 2009, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Infants and young children are especially at risk for getting sick after eating these products. Pregnant women also are at greater risk of problems such as miscarriage and infection.

People often consume raw milk products because they want unprocessed foods. But research studies have not shown any benefits to drinking raw milk, and products made with unpasteurized milk can be the source of various infections.

Pasteurization is the process of raising the temperature of milk to at least 161 degrees for more than 15-20 seconds, followed by rapid cooling. Pasteurization kills dangerous bacteria and reduces the risk of getting sick. The process first was used in the United States in the 1920s. Before pasteurization, raw milk contributed to a large amount of food-related illness.

Claims linking pasteurized milk to health problems have not been backed up by scientific data, according to the report. In addition, strong scientific evidence shows that pasteurized milk is just as nutritious as raw milk. The sale of raw milk products is legal in 30 states, but shipments between states are not allowed. About 1% to 3% of all dairy products eaten in the United States are not pasteurized.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend against consuming raw milk products.

The Center for Disease Control and prevention features videos of real people sharing their experience after consuming raw milk products. Parents doing research about healthier options for their children should consider the risk of their choices and check all options available.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov or www.fda.gov.

About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.