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Unprocessed Milk May Reduce Risk of Asthma in Children

Unprocessed cow’s milk has higher omega-3 fatty acid levels than pasteurized, homogenized, and low-fat milk. A new study has found a link between consumption of unprocessed cow’s milk and a reduced risk of asthma, which the researchers attribute to the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3’s.


Participants in the study included 1,133 children living in rural areas in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, and France. The children’s mothers kept records of their nutrition and illness until the age of six. Milk consumption in 934 of the children was assessed via yearly questionnaires, samples of “usually” consumed milk, and serum samples collected at age four. The parents reported asthma diagnoses at age six.


The researchers found that by age six the proportion of children who drank unprocessed farm milk had a significantly lower level of asthma onset than those who did not. They believe that the protective effects are in part due to the higher omega-3 fatty acid content in the unprocessed milk.


The researchers also noted that the beneficial effect of the milk on asthma increased over time and that recent consumption of untreated milk was more relevant than consumption in the first years of life.


Researchers from Ludwig Maximillians Universität Munich in Germany conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 11, 2016, in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.


Unpasteurized milk is not legal in many states because it may contain harmful bacteria, including E. coli. However, previous studies suggest that it may be associated with reducing symptoms of eczema as well as helping people with asthma. The scientific community is divided on the cost/benefit balance of consuming raw milk.

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