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A brand new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises all pregnant women, infants and children to consume only pasteurized milk, cheese and other milk products, and furthermore supports a ban on the sale of raw milk in the U.S. The new policy statement, “Consumption of Raw or Unpasteurized Milk and Milk Products by Pregnant Women and Children,” published in the January 2014 Pediatrics (released online Dec. 16), looks at the evidence surrounding raw milk consumption and associated health risks, primarily among pregnant women and young children. Jatinder Bhatia, MD, FAAP, a co-author of the policy statement, notes the following in an AAP release, “Given the progress we have made in prevention, there is no reason to risk consuming raw milk in this day and age. Consumption of raw milk products is especially risky for pregnant women, infants, immunocompromised individuals, and the elderly, and the evidence overwhelmingly establishes the benefits of pasteurization on food safety.” Raw milk safety and health benefits has been a long-time debate among individuals and health organizations, so this new report is sure to ruffle some feathers and create some major controversy, but the AAP is sticking to their guns, reporting that raw milk consumption may cause deadly infections including Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Brucella and E. coli which pose a risk to everyone, but pose a much more serious risk to pregnant women, resulting in miscarriage and stillbirths and in young children, resulting in meningitis and blood-borne infections.
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Yvonne Maldonado, MD, FAAP, the lead author of the policy statement notes that, “Before pasteurization of milk began in the United States in the 1920s, consumption of raw dairy products accounted for a significant proportion of foodborne illnesses among Americans, and resulted in hundreds of outbreaks of tuberculosis and other serious infections.” The current state of raw milk is that about 1% to 3% of dairy products consumed in the U.S. are not pasteurized. According to the AAP report, this has caused some serious health problems, including 1,837 illnesses, 195 hospitalizations, 93 illness outbreaks, and two deaths between 1998 and 2009. The AAP is not alone in wanting to ban raw milk. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and many other national and international associations endorse pasteurized milk and milk products as a much safer milk option for pregnant women, infants, and children. Proponents of the purported health benefits of raw milk are sure to take aim at this new policy recommendation, but the AAP reminds consumers that the health benefits of consuming raw milk have not, as of yet, been clearly demonstrated in evidence-based studies. So, pregnant women, young children, babies, and those who have a compromised immune system, should avoid raw milk and raw milk products. To learn more about the raw milk debate, see the links below.
- Raw milk debate heats up
- The Raw Milk Debate: Rawness and Rationality
- State-by-State* Review of Raw Milk Laws
- Raw Milk Safety vs. Rights