Cow's milk is too salty and should not be given to children under one year old, nutritionists from Bristol University have said.
The study, of 1,200 eight-month-olds born in 1991 or 1992, found that seven in 10 babies had too much salt in their diets - and those fed cow's milk before the age of one year had the highest level of salt. However, only one in eight children were fed a diet of exclusively fed cow's milk.
The report, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that cow's milk contained 55mg of salt per 100ml - four times the salt levels found in breast milk (15mg per 100ml). Formula milk contained between 15 and 30mg of salt per 100ml.
Dr Pauline Emmett and Vicky Cribb, who led the research, said: "These findings show that salt intakes need to be substantially reduced in children of this age group.
"Infants need foods specifically prepared for them without added salt, so it is important to adapt the family diet.
"This research suggests that clear advice is needed for parents about what foods are suitable for infants.
"This should be given to all parents and carers, and should include the important advice not to use cow's milk as a main drink before 12 months of age."
Posted by Robert Mair on 3.8.11 Please send your comments on this article to: firstname.lastname@example.org