Raw milk and asthma study funded by HRC

by IDReC

An IDReC study into the potential allergy-protective effects of drinking raw milk has been awarded three years funding from the Health Research Council. The work is being led by Jeroen Douwes from the Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University, Wellington. Jeroen will be working in collaboration with Nigel French from mEpiLab, Massey University, Palmerston North, along with researchers from the Malaghan Insititute of Medical Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and St George's, University of London.

Title: Unpasteurised milk: protective for allergies and asthma?

Research Team: Jeroen Douwes, Graham Le Gros, Nigel French, Kristin Wickens, Elizabeth Forbes, Neil Pearce, David Strachan

Abstract: Studies in farmers' children have indicated that unpasteurised milk may protect against allergies and asthma. The reasons are unclear and these findings have not been confirmed in non-farmers. The current study will assess these protective effects in the general population making use of a "natural experiment". It will involve 300 non-farming families who obtain raw milk through farmers with whom they have a "cow share agreement" which allows the provision of raw milk without contravening sales legislation. We will also recruit 150 families who do not consume unpasteurised milk. The study will assess whether raw milk is associated with a lower prevalence of allergies and asthma and improved lung function. It will also study the immunological mechanisms and the involvement of pathogenic bacteria. This study will contribute towards identifying the anti-allergic components within raw milk and has the potential to lead to novel and effective interventions for allergies and asthma.

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