Review: Raw cow’s milk and allergy protection

Living on a farm appears to reduce the risk of allergic diseases in children, although not all studies concur. This disparity suggests that the protective effects may depend on a particular type of farming environment. Polish allergy expert Barbara Sozanska has produced a review on raw (unpasteurised) cow’s milk as a potential aspect of a farm environment responsible for protection against allergy development.

Despite being one of the major foods capable of causing serious allergic reactions, cow’s milk – when consumed in its unprocessed state – in early childhood has been associated with reduced prevalence of allergic diseases including atopy, hay fever, and asthma. The review examines several cross-sectional surveys and publications that appear to confirm the protective effect, including observations in both farming and non-farming populations.

Published reports on the differences between raw and commercial milk are examined, along with what is known about the underlying genetics and epigenetics of allergy; and the macronutrient composition and microbial aspects of raw milk that may play a role in allergy prevention.

Offsetting these effects are the known microbial risks associated with the consumption of unpasteurised cow’s milk, particularly if not consumed at the point of production. Dr Sozanska concludes that due to ethical risks, controlled studies cannot be carried out to help confirm the protective effects of consuming raw cow’s milk in early life.

Reference: Sozanska, B. 2019 Nutrients Vol 11(2) pp. 469- DOI: 10.3390/nu11020469

This is an Open Access article.