SIDS, crib death, A1 milk and cows-milk-induced infant apnoea


As I have recently discovered, the risk of sudden infant death is very frightening for new parents - and grandparents. In my day, we were told to put our babies to sleep on their fronts, but now that is strictly forbidden along with co-sleeping, blankets and a whole lot of stuff that seems designed to make life harder for new mums. But what about milk? There is so much research and so little information passed on to parents.

The science

  • Breastfed babies have about half the risk of SIDS compared to formula-fed babies.
  • There is a naturally occurring component called BCM7 in ordinary (A1) cows milk that doesn't occur in A2 milk and A2 infant formula.
  • High levels of BCM7 have been found in SIDS near-misses - babies who stopped breathing and were saved.
  • High levels of BCM7 have been found to cause sleep apnoea and irregular breathing in rabbits and rats.
  • Some babies may be more at risk than others: the near-miss babies had lower levels of an enzyme called DPP4 that can break down BCM7 in the body.

The easiest way to avoid the risk:  avoid cows milk with BCM7        

  • When breastfeeding, the mother has to reduce her intake of A1 milk because BCM7 - and a similar component called BCM5 - can pass into her breastmilk
  •           Buy A2 infant formula if using formula

There is a report in a medical journal of a baby who was suffering bouts of apnoea immediately after breast feeding. The mother realised that these apnoea episodes occurred after she had been drinking large quantities of cow milk. Sure enough, when scientists tested the baby’s blood, they found extremely high levels of bovine BCM5. Other possible causes of the apnoea were investigated but those turned out to be negative. The researchers concluded that "such a situation occurs rarely ... however  ...

"it is accompanied by a real threat to the infant’s life that can be avoided when applying a simple and not costly dietetic intervention…[avoiding A1 milk]”

Australian doctors say there isn't enough evidence to worry about it, but Professor Keith Woodford doesn't agree (see links below). Nor do people in the rest of the world. China is a huge market for A2 milk. In Mexico and Romania, scientists are testing their dairy herds to make sure they can produce A2 infant formula.

The good news is that it is easy to buy A2 products in Australia. These must be 100% A2, not  a combination of A1 and A2 - see our  blog post When is A2 not really A2?

What about goats milk?

Milk from other species - e.g. goat, sheep, buffalo, yak, camel, donkey - is naturally A2 and does not contain beta casomorphins BCM7 and BCM5.
Milk from cows in traditional African and Asian herds is naturally A2 . It is only the European herds that contain A1 beta casein  proteins.
Some breeds of cows are more likely to produce A2 milk - jerseys and guernseys - but you can't be sure it is pure A2 unless it is tested.

Where to buy some A2 milk products

In Australia, we can buy A2 milk, baby formula, yoghurt and ice-cream in supermarkets
A2 infant formula, called a2 Platinum, in Coles, Woolworths, some IGAs and some pharmacies.

a2 milk (and a2 milk full cream milk powder).

A2 Jalna yoghurt (full cream and low fat).

a2 ice-cream.

Meredith dairy sheep milk yoghurt and cultured goat milk. 

Mr Goaty gelato.

The Camel Milk Co camel milk and camel milk powder.

Read more

Professor Keith Woodford and the science and update

Wasilewska J et al, Cow's-milk-induced infant apnoea with increased serum content of bovine ß-casomorphin-5. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2011;52(6):772-5. and this article about the study above, but note that Dr Greger is promoting a vegan diet so doesn't mention A2 milk as an alternative

Factsheet on A2 milk

Blog post on When is A2 not really A2?

Australian doctors say there isn't enough evidence to worry about it 


Sue and Howard Dengate do not own shares in A2 milk - unfortunately, because they have gone up a lot recently! - nor do we have any other financial connections to this industry, unlike many people who write papers downplaying the risks of A1 milk.  For more about how big money has influenced the Australian and New Zealand dairy farmers and governments to not change all our dairy herds asap to A2 - which would be very easy to do - see Professor Keith Woodford's book Devil in the Milk: Illness, politics and health, A1 and A2 milk

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