Should you drink milk while breastfeeding? A Swedish study published in the scientific journal Nutrients shows that the children of women who drink cow’s milk while breastfeeding are less likely to develop an allergy.

A study of 500 Swedish mothers

This study is based on a survey of 500 Swedish women who gave birth between 2015 and 2018 and who breastfed their child. Researchers at Chalmers University in Gothenburg recorded the eating habits of these women three times: at the 34th week of pregnancy, one month after birth and four months after birth. Their claims were corroborated by testing their blood and breast milk for biomarkers specific to dairy products.

Then when they were one year old, the children were examined by doctors who diagnosed all possible cases of food allergy, eczema and asthma.

Read also: Milk, potion or poison?

Not a “general remedy”

Result: “mothers of healthy one-year-olds consumed more cow’s milk while breastfeeding than mothers of allergic one-year-olds“Mia Stråvik, a nutritional scientist and co-author of the study, reports in a university press release.

While the association is clear, we are not claiming that consuming cow’s milk is a general cure for food allergies.“, she tempers.

A “boost” for the immune system

But how to explain this link? According to Professor Ann-Sofie Sandberg, also co-author of the study, mother’s milk contains substances that stimulate the maturity of the immune system. These substances depend directly on the foods consumed by breastfeeding women.

And “during the early development of a child, there is a window of time where stimulation of the immune system is necessary for the child to develop tolerance to different foods“she said in the same press release.

Contact at this precise moment with various substances can function as a kind of “whiplash“for the child’s immune system,” she explains.

Too many “myths” about food

If many factors, such as genetic predisposition, explain the risk of allergy, the diet of the nursing mother may also play a direct role, the authors of the study remind. However, “it is common for young women to avoid drinking milk, in part because of fads (…) some of which are linked to myths about diet“regrets Mia Stråvik. Beliefs to be eliminated, according to the authors of the study.

And for women themselves allergic to milk? Allergy to milk proteins is uncommon in adults, the researchers say. So most women can consume milk and milk products without any problem. Lactose intolerance, different from allergy, allows you to consume certain dairy products without lactose.