About half of the parents who told researchers that their child regularly drank farm milk said that they did not boil the milk before giving it to them. The protective results were the same, regardless of whether milk was boiled or not.
However, as drinking raw milk is not recommended, especially for young children, this may have encouraged parents to say they boiled milk when they didnt, indicating a higher level of raw milk consumption.
"The results of this study indicate that all children drinking farm milk have a lower chance of developing asthma and hayfever" says Dr Waser. "However raw milk may contain pathogens such as salmonella or enterohaemorrhagic E coli and its consumption may have serious health risks.
"We need to develop a deeper understanding of why farm milk offers children this higher level or protection and investigate ways of making the product safer, while retaining these protective qualities.
"At the moment we can only speculate about why farm milk protects children against asthma and allergies. Perhaps it is because farm milk has different levels or compositions of pathogenic and non-pathogenic microbes to milk sold in shops.
"It is interesting that there was no difference in the farm milk results regardless of whether it was boiled before consumption. As boiling is likely to have been over-reported, this could indicate that pasteurisation is not as important as previously thought, as compounds other than microbes may offer a protective role.
"But despite our findings, we cannot recommend consumption of raw farm milk as a preventative measure against asthma and allergies." More than 35 researchers took part in the PARSIFAL study Prevention of allergy risk factors for sensitisation in children related to farming and anthroposophic lifestyle.
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