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Mothers who drink cow’s milk while breastfeeding could reduce their child’s allergy risk, a new study has suggested.

Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden found that the infants of mothers who drank more cow’s milk while breastfeeding had a reduced chance of developing a food allergy later in childhood.

They analysed the eating habits of more than 500 Swedish women at three different times: in the 34th week of pregnancy; one month after birth; and four months after birth.

When the child turned one, they were medically examined by the researchers for any evidence of food allergies, eczema and asthma.

And the scientists were able to establish a link between the mother’s intake of cow’s milk and other dairy products with a smaller incidence of food allergies.

“No matter how we looked at and interpreted the data, we came to the same conclusion,” co-author Malin Barman stated. “The mechanisms behind why milk has this preventative effect against allergies, however, are still unclear.”

While the researchers do not claim that drinking cow’s milk will be a cure for preventing food allergies, they do point out that “mothers of healthy one-year-olds consumed more cow’s milk during breastfeeding than mothers of allergic one-year-olds”.

Professor Ann-Sofie Sandberg speculated that one explanation could be that the milk in the mother’s diet contains substances that stimulate the maturity of the baby’s immune system, and helps them to build up tolerance to different foods.

Researchers also discovered that the children of breastfeeding mothers who ate a lot of fruit and berries were more likely to have eczema, but further study is needed.

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