- Raw Milk reduces the incidence of hayfever and asthma
- Evidence suggests that this protection is maintained after boiling the raw milk
- No evidence for decreased incidence of eczema with raw milk consuption
- Raw Milk still not recommended by researcher due to other health issues
A recent study of 14,893 children aged between five and 13 in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland found that drinking raw milk can protect children against asthma and hayfever.
The children were drawn from farm children, rural and suburban communities and Waldorf schools.
None of the farm products had any effect on eczema levels. "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" says lead author Marco Waser, a doctor in natural sciences from the Institute of Social and Preventative Medicine at the University of Basel, Switzerland.
About half of the parents who told researchers that their child regularly drank farm milk said that they did not boil the milk before giving it to them. The protective results were the same, regardless of whether milk was boiled or not.
However, as drinking raw milk is not recommended, especially for young children, this may have encouraged parents to say they boiled milk when they didn't, indicating a higher level of raw milk consumption. "The results of this study indicate that all children drinking farm milk have a lower chance of developing asthma and hayfever" says Dr Waser.
"However raw milk may contain pathogens such as salmonella or enterohaemorrhagic E coli and its consumption may have serious health risks.
"We need to develop a deeper understanding of why farm milk offers children this higher level or protection and investigate ways of making the product safer, while retaining these protective qualities. "At the moment we can only speculate about why farm milk protects children against asthma and allergies. Perhaps it is because farm milk has different levels or compositions of pathogenic and non-pathogenic microbes to milk sold in shops.
"It is interesting that there was no difference in the farm milk results regardless of whether it was boiled before consumption. As boiling is likely to have been over-reported, this could indicate that pasteurization is not as important as previously thought, as compounds other than microbes may offer a protective role.
"But despite our findings, we cannot recommend consumption of raw farm milk as a preventative measure against asthma and allergies."