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Cow’s Milk Casomorphin and Crib Death

Bovine casomorphin from cow’s milk is suspected to increase the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome, or crib death) based on the elevated blood levels in babies suffering acute life-threatening events and their relative inability to clear it from their systems.

May 8, 2012 |
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This report on cows' milk induced infant apnea, thought due to the opiate-like effects of bovine casomorphin in milk, was just a single case report. It was so provocative, though, researchers immediately started testing other kids. SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome, also known as crib death, is the leading cause of death for healthy infants after one month of age. 1 in every 2000 American babies die this way. Every day 6 babies stop crying and 6 parents start
Most susceptible, are infants exposed to several postnatal factors, sleeping on their stomach, second-hand smoke, and high sleep room temperatures, but It is supposed that in some cases of SIDS, it is cows’ milk that may play a certain role. It is also suspected that b-casomorphins hold a direct responsibility for that situation.
Beta casomorphins are biologically active with, as its name suggests, effects similar to that of morphine. Penetration of b-casomorphins into the infant’s immature central nervous system may inhibit the respiratory centre in the brainstem leading to abnormal ventilatory responses, hypercapnia, which means too much carbon dioxide, hypoxia—not enough oxygen, apnoea, and death.
So what they did was study infants who had recurrent life-threatening episodes—meaning apnea, where they stop breathing, or turn blue, or become limp, etc. These are the kinds of events that place babies at high risk for SIDS.
The blood levels of bovine casomorphin in the babies with acute life threatening events averaged three times higher than healthy babies. Why? Well, there’s an enzyme that gets rid of caso-morphin, and the activity of that enzyme in the affected group was only half that of the healthy kids. And so some babies may just not be able to clear it out of their systems fast enough and are placed at risk for death.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

For an introduction to bovine casomorphin, see yesterday's video. Tomorrow I'll conclude this 3-part video series on the so-called "milk-apnea effect," with a discussion of the role this morphine-like compound may play in other conditions, including autism. Casomorphins are also mentioned in my Is Milk and Mucus A Myth? video. And as always there are also hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Cow’s Milk Casomorphin, Crib Death, and Autism and Avoiding Dairy to Prevent Parkinson's

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For an
    introduction to bovine casomorphin, see yesterday’s video. Tomorrow I’ll conclude this 3-part video series on the so-called “milk-apnea effect,” with a discussion of the role this morphine-like compound may play in other conditions, including autism. Casomorphins are also mentioned in my Is Milk and Mucus A Myth? video. And as always there are also hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

    • HemoDynamic

      I want to know when this is going to hit national news!!  I would love to see what the Dairy council would say.  Or will they just ignore it like all the other overwhelming negative research about their contaminated and infected, pus-filled products.

  • Erik Franks

    It sounds like this is not just direct exposure from dairy formula but the mother drinking/eating dairy and transferring the casomorphin to their child and putting them at risk. 2nd hand dairy. Scary stuff.

    • Nusrednamuk

      I can’t wrap my head around this. There’s casomorphine in human milk as well, so I don’t see the connection to bovine milk. Is it so simple that the mother consume so much casomorphine that the amount is too much for kids to handle?

      • Tedster

        See the next video.  It distinguishes Human casomorphins from Bovine casomorphins.  The Bovine casomorphins are linked to autism whereas the Human casomorphins are not.

  • troy

    Does this apply to infants fed a diary-based formula?  Is there any effect suspected on breast-fed infants whose mother is consuming dairy

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Also be sure to check out my associated blog post Cow’s Milk Casomorphin, Crib Death, and Autism!

  • Katie

    What about the MMR vaccine?? The Bovine Serum is in the vaccine? Is this the reason so many parents with children that have Autism have decided to go Cassein free?? My son has PDD. I do not give him dairy products.