Drinking raw milk is risky business, but a new report published Wednesday in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, shows that it may be riskier than previously reported, according to an NBC News article available here.
Researchers, looking at cases in Minnesota over the last decade, found that raw milk sickened one in six people who consumed unpasteurized dairy, with children most at risk.
USA Today reports that 60 percent of the illnesses reported occurred in children and teens. Twenty-five percent occurred in children under the age of 5, including an 11-month-old infant who died after contracting toxic E. coli O157 infection.
"Outbreaks associated with raw milk occur frequently and receive a lot of media attention, but our study shows that sporadic cases of illnesses associated with raw milk consumption far outnumber cases associated with recognized outbreaks,” Robinson said in an email to NBC News. “We hope that our findings will help inform potential raw milk consumers when thinking about drinking raw milk or giving it to their children.”
The researchers found about 530 people who were sickened by raw milk over the last 10 years, and about half of those who became ill received their raw milk from their own or a relative’s farm. However, researchers warn that the actual number of cases may be undercounted and “just the tip of the iceberg.”
They suggest that based on previous research, the 530 cases represented 20,000 actual cases. Read more here.
Recently, a family in Tennessee experienced first-hand the dangers of feeding raw milk to children. Five-year-old Maddie Powell was one of nine children sickened in the outbreak. She was hospitalized for nearly a month after developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal kidney disease associated with severe E. coli infections. Powell was released from the hospital in late November.