NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Consumption of farm milk appears to reduce the risk of asthma and allergy, according to findings from a European study.
“All the children drinking unpasteurized farm milk and eating other farm-related dairy products showed the same level of protection against asthma and allergies, regardless of whether they were living on a farm or not,” lead author Dr. Marco Waser, from the University of Basel in Switzerland, said in a statement. The benefits were greatest when consumption of farm milk began during the first year of life, he added.
However, consumption of raw or unboiled milk is not recommended, Dr. Waser emphasized. “Raw milk may contain (disease-causing microbes) such as salmonella or...Escherichia coli and its consumption may have serious health risks.”
The findings, which appear in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy, are based on a study of 14,893 children, between 5 and 13 years of age, who were drawn from farm, rural, and suburban communities across Europe. Food consumption was determined through parental questionnaires.
Farm milk consumption was tied to reduced risks of asthma and allergy. As noted, these benefits were apparent regardless of the child’s area of residence.
Further studies are needed to identify the properties of farm milk that confer protection against asthma and allergy, Waser said. In addition, there is a need for research looking at ways of making the product safer, while still retaining the benefits, he added.
SOURCE: Clinical and Experimental Allergy, May 2007.