Cow’s milk impact on children’s health
New facts about cow’s milk and its impact on children’s health
Research by scientists from the University of Ludwik Maksymilian in Munich shows that newborns fed fresh milk – unlike those fed UHT – are less susceptible to infection. The authors recommend alternative methods of milk processing in order to preserve the protective ingredients contained in the natural product.
The best milk straight from the cow?
Pan-European studies conducted by Professor Erika von Mutius from ULM prove that fresh cow’s milk protects small children against respiratory infections. Also from diseases with symptoms of fever and otitis media. As unprocessed milk may contain pathogenic microorganisms that pose a health risk, scientists recommend processing methods that protect the beneficial substances present in raw milk. The results were published in the journal Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The current research results are part of the long-term project PASTURE. It aims to check the role of nutritional and environmental factors in the development of allergies. 1,000 pregnant women participated in the study. It documented the newborn’s diet and their health every week during the first year of life. Among children fed with fresh milk, the frequency of colds and other infections of the respiratory system and otitis media was significantly lower compared to the group consuming UHT milk.
Consumption of unprocessed milk has reduced the risk of getting sick 30%. – the effect was reduced if the milk was heated at home before consumption. Pasteurized milk has retained the ability to reduce the risk of feverish diseases. While the higher temperatures used in UHT processing have completely eliminated this effect. Most important, however, is that the positive effect of raw milk can be clearly separated from the impact of other elements in the child’s diet.
Impact on inflammation
At the end of the first year of life newborn blood samples were taken and tested for biochemical indicators of the immune function. Children fed unprocessed milk had a lower level of C-reactive protein, which is a measure of inflammation of the body. Other studies have shown that a higher level of inflammation is associated with the subsequent occurrence of chronic conditions. Consumption of unprocessed milk can therefore reduce the risk of asthma.
However, consumption of raw milk is not completely risk free – milk straight from the cow may contain pathogenic bacteria that cause serious diseases, e.g. E. coli associated with diarrhea and renal failure and microorganisms that cause listeriosis and tuberculosis. The researchers suggest that alternative milk treatment methods are needed that will keep the protective ingredients, while eliminating the harmful microorganisms.
The advantages of living in the countryside
Cow’s milk is not only fats and carbohydrates, but also proteins that modulate the function of the immune system. In many respects, the composition of cow’s milk is similar to human milk. It has long been known that breastfeeding protects newborns against infection. How well it affects the immune system at an early stage of development is not clear. It is suspected that some directly related factors affect viruses or the development of a healthy immune system. It’s altering the composition of the microflora in the gut.
Feeding small children with cow’s milk, however, is controversial because it can lead to an allergic reaction. Among children who participated in the study only in 2 percent. allergy to milk or other products developed before the first birthday. Rural life has a positive effect on immunity, which has been proven in earlier studies. All results together with the current ones show that children growing on traditional farms show the least probability of allergies. The women taking part in the study come from rural areas of Bavaria, Finland, France, Switzerland and Austria. About half of these women live on the farm.
All the best,