Milk and Child Growth in Samburu, Kenya

This study evaluated the impact of agriculture dependence on household milk production, consumption, and associations with child anthropometry.

Location: Samburu, Kenya

Collaborators: Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, Carolyn Lesorogol and Lora Iannotti

Description: Milk has been integral to pastoralist nutrition for thousands of years, but as communities move toward settled livelihoods, milk consumption is dropping with only minimal evidence for the health and nutrition implications.

This longitudinal study aimed to first test whether increased dependency on agriculture reduced household milk production and consumption, and ultimately, nutrient adequacy among the Samburu pastoralists. Second, we investigated whether household milk availability affected child milk intakes and anthropometry. Socioeconomic and dietary intake data were collected from households (n = 200) in 2000, 2005, and 2010, and anthropometric measures and individual child milk intakes in 2012. Nutrient intakes were assessed by the probability of nutrient adequacy method, and generalized least-squared regression modeling with mixed effects was applied to identify predictors of milk consumption. 

Key Findings:

  • Milk contributed 10% of energy intakes, below maize (52%) and sugar (11%), but over one-half of critical micronutrients, vitamins A, B12 , and C.
  • Livestock holdings and income increased the likelihood of higher milk intakes.
  • Milk consumption at the household level was positively associated with higher body mass index z scores among youth.

Sponsors: National Science Foundation and Fulbright Scholar Program


Animal milk sustains micronutrient nutrition and child anthropometry among pastoralists in Samburu, Kenya.Iannotti L, Lesorogol C. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 2014

Dietary intakes and micronutrient adequacy related to the changing livelihoods of two pastoralist communities in Samburu, Kenya. Iannotti L, Lesorogol C. Current Anthropology. 2014