From my newborn through toddler years, I had digestive problems and my little self couldn’t handle anything except for goat’s milk. And so that’s what I drank until I was a small child and was able to switch to cow’s milk.

I’m 5 feet tall and clearly, genetics played a major role in my height, but I do find it interesting that I'm shorter than my six siblings and am the only one who drank anything other than cow’s milk. So...

Science now claims that kids who drink cow’s milk alternatives such as soy, almond, and rice milk are a bit shorter than kids who drink straight up cow’s milk.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says,

For each daily cup of non-cow milk consumed, children were 0.4 cm shorter. In the mediation analysis, lower cow milk consumption only partially mediated the association between non-cow milk consumption and lower height. The height difference for a child aged 3 y(ears-old) consuming 3 cups non-cow milk/d relative to 3 cups cow milk/d was 1.5 cm”

In other words, kids who drink cow’s milk alternatives are shorter than those who do drink cow’s milk, which is interesting because a lot of parents are turning to cow’s milk alternatives because of touted health benefits. However, the study author also claims, "non- cow's milk contains less protein and fat than cow's milk and may not have the same effect on height."

If you’re giving your little ones cow’s milk alternatives for the sole reason that you’ve been led to believe that it’s healthier for them than cow’s milk, you might want to have a chat with your pediatrician and get their take on things.

[via American Journal of Clinical Nutrition]