Colostrum is the milky substance that mothers produce from the breast during the first few days after birth. It is high in nutrients. Most colostrum that is available for purchase comes from cows. Colostrum has been used to improve infant health. It has also been used to improve athletic performance in adults. It can be taken as a pill or powder.
10 to 20 grams once daily—This dose is not advised for infants.
What Research Shows
May Be Effective
Unlikely to Be Effective
Not Enough Data to Assess
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
It is likely safe to take colostrum in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.
A. Failure to Thrive
A1. Panahi Y, Falahi G, et al. Bovine colostrum in the management of nonorganic failure to thrive: a randomized clinical trial. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2010 May;50(5):551-554.
B1. Kaducu FO, Okia SA, et al. Effect of bovine colostrum-based food supplement in the treatment of HIV-associated diarrhea in Northern Uganda: a randomized controlled trial. Indian J Gastroenterol. 2011;30(6):270-276.
C. Immunoglobulin A Deficiency
C1. Patıroğlu T, Kondolot M. The effect of bovine colostrum on viral upper respiratory tract infections in children with immunoglobulin A deficiency. Clin Respir J. 2013 Jan;7(1):21-26.
D. Low Birth Weight
D1. Balachandran B, Dutta S, et al. Bovine Colostrum in Prevention of Necrotizing Enterocolitis and Sepsis in Very Low Birth Weight Neonates: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Pilot Trial. J Trop Pediatr. 2017 Feb;63(1):10-17.
D2. Zhang Y, Ji F, et al. Oropharyngeal Colostrum Administration in Very Low Birth Weight Infants: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2017 Sep;18(9):869-875.
E. Preterm infants
E1. Lee J, Kim HS, et al. Oropharyngeal colostrum administration in extremely premature infants: an RCT. Pediatrics. 2015 Feb;135(2):e357-66.
E2. Romano-Keeler J, Azcarate-Peril MA, et al. Oral colostrum priming shortens hospitalization without changing the immunomicrobial milieu. J Perinatol. 2017 Jan;37(1):36-41.
E3. Nasuf AWA, Ojha S, et al. Oropharyngeal colostrum in preventing mortality and morbidity in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;9:CD0011921.
F. Necrotizing Enterocolitis
F1. Sadeghirad B, Morgan RL, et al. Human and Bovine Colostrum for Prevention of Necrotizing Enterocolitis: A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2018 Aug;142(2). pii: e20180767.
G. Respiratory Tract Infections and Diarrhea
G1. Saad K, Abo-Elela MG, et al. Effects of bovine colostrum on recurrent respiratory tract infections and diarrhea in children. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Sep;95(37):e4560.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
Last Updated: 6/17/2020
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