Raw milk benefits have been studied over many years. We have known for many years the strong benefits of breast feeding that is protective against respiratory infections in early life and protection against allergies. A study was recently done looking at if cow raw milk might exert similar anti-infective effects in human infants.
The PASTURE study (Protection against allergy-study in Rural Environments) followed 983 infants from rural areas in Austria, Finland, France, Germany and Switzerland for the first year of life covering over 37,000 weeks. Consumption of of different types of cow’s milk and occurrence of rhinitis, respiratory infections, ear infections and fever were assessed using weekly health diaries. And C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation was studied at 12 months).
The results showed raw milk consumption compared to ultra-heated milk, showed less rhinitis, infections, fevers and ear infections. And the C-reactive protein was less too.
The authors concluded that early life raw milk consumption reduced the risk of infections and fevers by 30%. Unfortunately there are hazards to consuming raw milk and the benefits will probably be outweighed by the risks. But this does reinforce the strong benefit of breast milk. Breast feeding has been shown to decrease allergies and overall infections in babies. We strongly recommend breast feeding to help decrease overall allergy symptoms and infections. There is mixed data on how long it is necessary to breast feed, but it is always encouraged for mothers to breast feed their children for at least the first few months of infancy. This is especially true in families that have a strong allergy history.
For mothers who can not breast feed but who still want to get the benefit of protecting against allergies and infections, the authors argue that a new microbiological safe yet minimally processed milk might of major public benefit in protecting against asthma and infections.