Women who consume low-fat yoghurt during pregnancy increase the risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever) in children, according to a recent study.
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 from today (17 September 2011).
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.
The results showed that milk intake during pregnancy was not associated with increased risk of developing asthma and it actually protected against asthma development. However, women who ate low-fat yoghurt 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 yoghurt may play a part in increasing this risk. They are also looking at the possibility that low-fat yoghurt intake may serve as a marker for other dietary and lifestyle factors.
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 yoghurt 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 yoghurt regularly had similar lifestyle and dietary patterns which could explain the increased risk of asthma."