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Unpasteurized cow's milk and food allergy


Does the Academy have a position on consumption of raw milk to prevent atopy, asthma? I have read the GABRIELA study and have had patients' ask about it.


The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology does not have an official position with respect to the consumption of raw or unpasteurized milk for the prevention of atopy or asthma. There are a variety of issues and risks that should be considered, which include the possibility of increased infection with unpasteurized milk and the increased food costs if storage and shipping is limited without pasteurization. The GABRIELA study was a retrospective analysis of questionnaire data (Loss). The results show an inverse association with asthma and atopy in school aged children and a history of ingestion of unboiled cow’s milk. The mechanism of any effect of ingestion of unboiled milk is uncertain. The investigators reported that the reduced adjusted odds ratios for asthma, but not atopy, were associated with the content of whey proteins, α-lactalbumin and β-lactoglobulin but not bacterial or fat content of the milk.

In summary, epidemiologic data such as derived from the GABRIELA stimulate hypothesis generation but are not sufficient for policy decisions without confirmatory studies. Furthermore, the benefits of unboiled cow’s milk ingestion would need to be balanced against the potential risks.

Loss, Georg, et al. "The protective effect of farm milk consumption on childhood asthma and atopy: the GABRIELA study." Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 128.4 (2011): 766-773.

I hope this information is of help to you and your practice.

All my best.
Dennis K. Ledford, MD, FAAAAI