A diet rich in cheese in early childhood may protect against allergies

Infant eating cheese
Infant eating cheese

A study conducted by the University Hospital of Besançon and INRA shows the protective effect of high cheese consumption from a very young age. For the first time, a link has been established between cheese consumption and the probability of developing food or skin allergic diseases, regardless of the consumption of various other foods (vegetables or fruits, cereals, bread, meat, cake and yogurt) and living conditions in a farm environment (presence and diversity of farm animals). These results have been published in the journal Allergy .

The significant increase in the frequency of allergic diseases and asthma in industrialized countries over the past 40 years is due in part to an increase in the level of hygiene and a decrease in infectious diseases and microbial contacts in early childhood.

Since 2002, the PASTURE study, coordinated in France by Professor Dalphin, head of the Respiratory Disease Department of the University Hospital of Besançon, has been observing a cohort of children living in a rural environment in 5 European countries (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France and Finland).
This work has already confirmed, through nearly 60 scientific publications, the decrease in agricultural areas of the risk of allergies as well as the protective role of early food diversity.
Part IV of the PASTURE study, conducted in collaboration with INRA, focuses mores specifically on the consumption of cheese, a food rich in microbial diversity.

The data on environmental factors, allergic diseases and eating habits were collected via questionnaires, from birth, among 931 children included in the cohort and until the age of 6 years. Cheese consumption at the age of 18 months was quantified in terms of frequency and diversity (six types of cheese were consumed: hard pressed cheese, semipressed, soft, blue, fresh cheese and cheese from the farm).
In this study, all cheese consumption between 12 and 18 months was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of atopic dermatitis (eczema) at 6 years old and of food allergy but also with a reduced risk of allergic rhinitis, asthma and sensitization to both food and inhaled allergens.

The lower incidence of eczema and food allergy is found equally in children having had a greater diversity and frequency of cheese consumption. Further studies will make it possible to determine precisely whether the reduced risk is related to the diversity or the frequency of cheese consumption. At the same time, analysis of the gut microbiota in cheese consumers may help to understand the mechanisms involved. The aim is to put into place, in the long term, preventive strategies for asthma and allergic diseases.

PASTURE IV ( P rotection against A llergy: STU dy in R ural E nvironment - Phase IV): Evaluation of the protective effect of dairy products on asthma and allergy.

Study promoted by the University Hospital of Besançon and conducted in collaboration with INRA Dijon with the logistic support of the Mutualité Social Agricole de Franche-Comté and funding from PHRC interregional, Ministère des Solidarités et de la Santé .