Food and Behaviour Research

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22 October 2014 - medicalnewstoday - Pediatric Allergology: Fresh milk keeps infections at bay

Study shows that infants fed on fresh rather than UHT cow's milk are less prone to infection.

The findings are the latest to emerge from the long-term PASTURE study, which is exploring the role of dietary and environmental factors in the development of allergic illness.
The study initially recruited 1000 pregnant women who were asked to document their children's diet and state of health at weekly intervals during the first year of life.

"Among children who were fed on fresh, unprocessed cow's milk the incidence of head colds and other respiratory infections, febrile and middle-ear inflammation was found to be significantly lower than in 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.

Ingestion of farm milk reduced the risk of developing these conditions by up to 30%, and the effect was diminished if the milk was heated at home before consumption. Conventionally pasteurized milk retained the ability to reduce the risk of febrile illness, while exposure to the higher temperatures used in UHT processing eliminated the effect altogether. Importantly, the positive impact of raw milk could be clearly separated from the confounding effects of other elements of the children's nutrition.

The researchers therefore suggest that alternative processing methods are needed for the industrial treatment of raw milk. "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.