Researchers have found a connection between eating low-fat yogurt during pregnancy and an increased risk of hay fever and/or asthma in their children. Researchers revealed the connection when testing whether milk fats could protect the fetus from certain allergic reactions/diseases. Drinking milk, it seems, is a healthy choice as it reduces the risk of childhood asthma, but low-fat yogurt does not provide the same benefits.

Low-fat yogurt is often mixed in with full-fat yogurt on stores shelves, but according to researchers, pregnant women need to read the labels very carefully. The study revealed that women who ate low-fat yogurt with fruit were about 1.5 times more likely to have children who suffered from rhinitis and asthma symptoms by age 7. The research study was not developed to test this connection, so further dedicated studies will be needed to learn more about the connection between low-fat yogurt and asthma. There is mention of non-fat yogurt, as well.

Until future research studies are completed, women concerned about children developing asthma should steer clear of low-fat yogurt and possibly other low-fat dairy products. While maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight is important, full-fat varieties can be consumed in moderation to prevent excessive weight gain. The difference between low-fat and full-fat dairy products, in terms of calories, is minimal.

Pregnant women should also know that skim milk, which has nearly all fat removed, may lead to hunger and excessive weight gain. Skim milk is rendered low-fat by removing milk fats, which leaves only the milk sugar. Sugar is known to cause a spike in blood glucose and could cause hunger or cravings for more simple sugars and carbohydrates. Full-fat dairy products are also considered a healthy choice for women trying to conceive.

According to Ekaterina Maslova, Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study, “This is the first study of its kind to link low-fat yogurt 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 yogurt regularly had similar lifestyle and dietary patterns which could explain the increased risk of asthma.”

Source: European Lung Foundation. 18 September, 2011.