Organic dairy cuts kids eczema and boosts breast milk

green-cows.jpgAccording to the Biological Farmers Association of Australia (flagging their organic interest up front), new research claims that the incidence of eczema in infants fed on organic dairy and whose mothers also consume organic dairy, is 36% lower than in children who consume conventional dairy. Why is this even here on Giz? Hurrah for science thanks very much! I’m all for healthy alternatives when there is a sound principle underlying the concept – not alterna-health for some naff ‘feel good’ reasoning alone. So while in part this study recommends further examination as being warranted, it’s a genuine shot in the arm (teehee) for why one might choose organic dairy over modern factory methods.

The study, conducted in the Netherlands and published in the British Journal of Nutrition, investigated organic food consumption during the first two years of life. The research was examining not only eczema, but wheezing and alllergen sensitisation. The organic dairy eczema assocation was the single clear association, with organic meet, fruit, veg, and eggs all showing no association.

Mmmm, organic dairy. Not just tastier, but better for your babies! Please note how successfully I refrained from making any jokes about boobies. Release and link to detailed research coverage after the jump.

BFA Press Release, 12 November 2007

Organic milk cuts eczema in children and boosts breast milk

A newly published scientific study shows that the incidence of eczema in infants fed on organic dairy products, and whose mothers also consumed organic dairy products, is 36% lower than in children who consume conventional dairy products. [1][2]

Whilst there is a significant body of evidence showing that organic food contains higher levels of beneficial nutrients than non-organic foods [3] , this is the first example of a definite health impact (i.e. isolated from other potential beneficial factors) of organic food consumption being published in a peer reviewed

Whilst the study confirms it is organic dairy consumption that protects against the development of eczema, the scientists could only hypothesise as to the mechanism which delivered this protection. Their hypothesis follows the established facts of increased levels of the beneficial conjugated linoleic acid isomers (CLA) [4]found in milk from organically managed cows. A separate recent study [5]confirms that higher levels of conjugated linoleic acids are not only found in cows’ milk but also in the breast milk of women consuming organic milk. This therefore underpins the hypothesis that the higher levels of CLAs in the breast milk of organic milk drinking mothers are a key mechanism in reducing eczema, as well as the organic dairy diet of the infants themselves.

Shane Heaton, nutritionist for the Biological Farmers of Australia said: “Given the strong evidence that organic has more beneficial nutrients, and the absence of harmful additives, common sense suggests that organic food is better for your health. It’s good to see this starting to be confirmed by scientific research. These studies add to the body of evidence showing that organic food isn’t a luxury – it’s how food’s supposed to be.”

Professor Carlo Leifert, at Newcastle University, leader of the EU’s 80m euro Quality Low Input Food (QLIF) project, said: “The Louis Bolk Institute together with medical schools in the Netherlands and the UK has published data which show that the composition differences between  organic and conventional milk (as shown by the results from the QLIF project  and other published studies) translate into higher levels of CLA in human breast milk and lower incidence eczema in infants. This is the first example of a definite  health impact of organic food consumption being published in a peer reviewed journal.”

Further information and references.