New study proves raw milk protects children from respiratory infections, fever, and inflammation of the middle ear!

Lynn Griffith
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A large European study led by Professor Erika von Mutius reports that fresh, non-pasteurized cow’s milk actually protects children from respiratory infections, fever and inflammation of the middle ear. The study does acknowledge that untreated cow’s milk could contain pathogenic microorganisms that could pose a health risk, but researchers argue for different processing methods to be used to preserve the protective agents in raw milk.  (1,2,3)

Long-term study examines effects of raw milk on children’s health for their first year of life

This long-term study explored the role of dietary and environmental factors in developing allergic illness.  The study began with 1,000 pregnant women who were asked to document their children’s diet and health weekly for the first year of life. (1,2,3)

“Among children who were fed fresh, unprocessed cow’s milk, the incidence of head colds and other respiratory infections, fever and middle-ear inflammation was found to be significantly lower than the group whose milk ration consisted of the commercially processed ultra-pasteurized product,” says Dr. Georg Loss of Dr. von Hauner’s Hospital, first author of the new paper. (1,3)

Drinking farm milk reduced the risk of developing respiratory infections, fever, and middle-ear inflammation by 30 percent.  The effects of the milk diminished if milk was heated at home before drinking.  Conventional pasteurization retained the ability to reduce fever, but exposure to UHT processing eliminated this ability.  The positive impact of raw milk could easily be separated from the effects of other elements in the children’s diet. (1,3)

“The effects of diverse milk treatments are presumably attributable to differentially heat-resistant components present in fresh milk. Compounds that are sensitive to heat seem to play a particularly important role in protection against respiratory-tract and ear infections,” says Loss. (1,3)

Team suggests alternative processing to reduce risks and preserve health benefits of raw milk

At the end of the first year, researchers took blood samples from the children and tested for biochemical indicators of immune functioning.  Infants that were fed on unprocessed milk had lower levels of C-reactive protein.  (1,3)

“Other studies have shown that higher levels of inflammation are related to the subsequent emergence of chronic conditions such as asthma and obesity. Consumption of unprocessed milk may therefore reduce the risk of developing asthma,” Loss explains. (1,3)

Conventional pasteurization exposes milk to temperatures of 161-165 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds.  Ultra-pasteurized milk is brought to 275 degrees Fahrenheit for a few seconds.  “Consumption of unprocessed milk itself is not entirely without risk,” says Loss. (1,3)

Loss agrees that untreated milk could cause illness such as enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) that could result in diarrhea and kidney failure. The research team is suggesting that alternative processing be used to preserve the health benefits and reduce risk. “With novel, milder treatments one could produce milk that is free of pathogenic microorganisms but retains the protective agents found in fresh milk,” says Loss. (1,3)

Milk not only contains fats and carbohydrates, but also proteins that modulate the immune system functioning.  “In many respects, the composition of cow’s milk is similar to that of human milk,” says Loss.  Breastfeeding has been known to protect infants from infections, and researchers believe that raw milk may promote healthy immune systems in the same way by altering the composition of gut microflora. (1,3)

Among the children of the study, only two percent had an allergy to milk or other food items prior to their first birthday.  The women and children who participated in the study lived in rural areas of Bavaria, Finland, France, Switzerland and Austria.  The study will continue to monitor these children for the first 10 years of life.   (1,3)

Sources for this article include:
(1) www.en.uni-muenchen.de
(2) www.jacionline.org
(3) www.sciencedaily.com

Image source: flic.kr

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