SUMMARY: Doctors and scientists have been looking for a good cow-milk (CM) substitute for the 4% of kids who have severe CM allergies. Unfortunately, goat and sheep milk often contain proteins that are similar to those found in CM and cross-reactivity can occur. And aside from being hypoallergenic, the milk also needs to taste good and be nutritious. In this study, scientists looked at donkey milk (DM), obtained from an Italian farm. This is a small scale study with 22 participants, all of whom have allergies to CM, some so severe that consuming CM causes Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome. Scientists found that DM is low in fat, high in bacteria-killing lysozyme and lactoferrin, and has generally lower pathogenic bacteria compared to CM. Also, DM most resembles human milk (HM) when it comes to its nutritional and chemical composition, including saturated/unsaturated fat ratio. Both raw and pasteurized DM were tested for pathogenic bacteria (Salmonella, Listeria, Enterobacteria, etc.) and DM was found to be safer than CM. The researchers concluded that DM looks like a very promising option for babies with severe CM allergies, but those between 0-6 months of age will mostly likely need a lipid and Vitamin D supplement to make up for the low fat content in DM.
LESSON COMMENTS: This would be an excellent article to read before a microbiology food lab. Agar plates and nutrient broth can be easily purchased via school lab supply stores and teachers can have students culture different microorganisms in different types of animal milk. While donkey milk might be difficult to find, goat, soy, and cow milk are readily available at grocery stores. Even better if teachers have access to raw milk (at a farmer’s market or if you teach in a rural area). Another lab that teachers can use this article for is the macromolecules milk lab. Using iodine, biuret, Benedict’s solution, and Sudan IV as indicators of different macromolecules, students try to figure out what type of milk product (1%, whole milk, soy milk, skim milk, etc.) they have been given. The class can read this article after or during the lab to help students make the connection between classroom experience and real life applications of milk macromolecule content.
Sarti, L., Martini, M., Brajon, G., Barni, S., Salari, F., Altomonte, I., … Novembre, E. (2019). Donkey’s Milk in the Management of Children with Cow’s Milk protein allergy: nutritional and hygienic aspects. Italian journal of pediatrics, 45(1), 102. doi:10.1186/s13052-019-0700-4