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Low-Fat Dairy The Healthier Choice? Not During Pregnancy


Although many have focused on the benefits of low-fat dairy, eating it while pregnant can increase the risk of your child developing asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever), according to recent findings.

The study will be presented at the European Respiratory Society’s (ERS) Annual Congress in Amsterdam on 25 September 2011. All the abstracts for the ERS Congress will be publicly available online.

Earlier this year Scottish researchers found links between unborn babies’ growth rate and their chances of developing eczema and hay fever.

Leanne Metcalf at Asthma UK said: “There is wide evidence to suggest the pre-natal environment can influence whether a child will develop asthma or allergy symptoms.”


Childhood asthma has risen threefold since the 1950s and about one-fourth of sufferers are children.

The study aimed to assess whether fatty acids found in dairy products could protect against the development of allergic diseases in children.

The researchers assessed milk and dairy intake during pregnancy and monitored the prevalence of asthma and allergic rhinitis using registries and questionnaires in the Danish National Birth Cohort.

Women who ate low-fat yogurt with fruit once a day were 1.6-times more likely to have children who developed asthma by age 7, compared with children of women who reported no intake. They were also more likely to have allergic rhinitis and to display current asthma symptoms.

The researchers suggest that non-fat related nutrient components in the yogurt may play a part in increasing this risk. They are also looking at the possibility that low-fat yogurt intake may serve as a marker for other dietary and lifestyle factors.

Leanne Metcalf at Asthma UK said: “There is wide evidence to suggest the pre-natal environment can influence whether a child will develop asthma or allergy symptoms.”

Ekaterina Maslova, lead author from the Harvard School of Public Health, who has been working with data at the Centre for Fetal Programming at Statens Serum Institut, said: “This is the first study of its kind to link low-fat yogurt intake during pregnancy with an increased risk of asthma and hay fever in children. This could be due to a number of reasons and we will further investigate whether this is linked to certain nutrients or whether people who ate yogurt regularly had similar lifestyle and dietary patterns which could explain the increased risk of asthma.”


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