This hypothesis helps to explain why farm kids tend to be so much healthier and far less prone to immune disorders than children raised in an urban setting.
Now, an international team of researchers has taken the Hygiene Hypothesis a step further by looking at how raw milk protects against allergies in children.
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology is reporting that farm children who drink raw milk exhibit a far superior immune response than either farm children who don’t consume raw milk or children living in an urban setting.
The team of researchers led by Dr. Mark Holbreich MD, an allergy and asthma specialist, compared skin prick tests of mostly raw milk drinking Amish children aged 6-12 years old living in Indiana to non raw milk drinking Swiss children living in either a farm or urban setting. Amish children in Indiana were chosen due to their genetic similarity to modern day Swiss children.
The results of the skin prick tests to assess allergic sensitization are summarized as follows:
- Over 44% of the urban living Swiss children exhibited an allergic reaction.
- Approximately 25% of the non raw milk drinking Swiss farm children had an allergic reaction.
- Only 7% of the primarily raw milk drinking Amish farm children had an allergic reaction.
This study comes on the heels of the 2011 Gabriella study which found that:
“Exposure to farm milk in early life and consumption of raw farm milk have been associated with a reduced asthma and atopy risk, and it has been suggested that this protection might be mediated through receptors of the innate immune system.”
While the results of this large survey combined with allergy testing is very promising with raw milk potentially a very easy way for parents to safely increase the odds that their children avoid the lifelong burden of allergies and/or asthma, further research is warranted. Dr. Holbreich’s team noted that some of the superior immune response of the raw milk drinking children may be due to the very large Amish families which may provide additional protective factors.
Should parents eager to provide their children with maximum lifelong vibrant health wait for these studies to occur?
While some parents may wish to remain cautious, more forward thinking parents wishing to provide their children with a health edge today will no doubt seek to source grassfed raw milk immediately based on this information. As wisely noted by Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue in her book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox:
“we can’t always wait for science to identify the nutrients and test for them before we go ahead and benefit from them”.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sources: Amish children living in northern Indiana have a very low prevalence of allergic sensitization