Cow's milk and linear growth in industrialized and developing countries.

Department of Human Nutrition and Center for Advanced Food Studies, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark.
Annual Review of Nutrition (Impact Factor: 10.46). 02/2006; 26:131-73. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.26.010506.103757
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The strongest evidence that cow's milk stimulates linear growth comes from observational and intervention studies in developing countries that show considerable effects. Additionally, many observational studies from well-nourished populations also show an association between milk intake and growth. These results suggest that milk has a growth-stimulating effect even in situations where the nutrient intake is adequate. This effect is supported by studies that show milk intake stimulates circulating insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, which suggests that at least part of the growth-stimulating effects of milk occur through the stimulation of IGFs. Given that the biological purpose of milk is to support the newborn during a period of high growth velocity, such an effect seems plausible. Adding cow's milk to the diet of stunted children is likely to improve linear growth and thereby reduce morbidity. In well-nourished children, the long-term consequences of an increased consumption of cow's milk, which may lead to higher levels of IGF-I in circulation or an increase in the velocity of linear growth, are likely to be both positive and negative. Based on emerging data that suggest both growth and diet during early life program the IGF axis, the association between milk intake and later health is likely to be complex.

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