Cow's milk-based beverage consumption in 1- to 4-year-olds and allergic manifestations: an RCT

Nutr J. 2016 Feb 27;15:19. doi: 10.1186/s12937-016-0138-0.


Background: Nutrients such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), prebiotics and β-glucan have been associated with reduced incidence of respiratory illnesses and allergic manifestations (AM). Our objective was to assess if consumption of a cow's milk-based beverage with these and other nutrients supports respiratory, gastrointestinal, and skin health in otherwise well-nourished, healthy children.

Methods: In this double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, healthy children (1-4 years of age) from two daycare centers in Brazil were fed three servings/day of a cow's milk-based beverage (CMBB; n = 125) containing DHA, the prebiotics polydextrose (PDX) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS), β-glucan, and other key nutrients, or a control cow's milk-based beverage (control; n = 131) for up to 28 weeks. Occurrence of respiratory infections, diarrheal disease and AM was assessed by study pediatricians and the number of episodes were analyzed with the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test and the Andersen-Gill model.

Results: The CMBB group had fewer episodes of AM, which included allergic rhinitis or conjunctivitis, wheezing, allergic cough, eczema and urticaria, compared to the control group (p = 0.021). The hazard ratio for increased number of episodes of AM was lower in the CMBB group compared to control (HR, 0.64; 95 % CI 0.47-0.89; p = 0.007). There was no difference in the incidence of respiratory infections and diarrheal disease between groups.

Conclusion: A cow's milk-based beverage containing DHA, PDX/GOS, and yeast β-glucan, and supplemented with micronutrients, including zinc, vitamin A and iron, when consumed 3 times/day for 28 weeks by healthy 1- to 4-year-old children was associated with fewer episodes of allergic manifestations in the skin and the respiratory tract.

Trial registration: registration number: NCT01431469.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Beverages*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Brazil
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / analysis
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Interleukin-10 / blood
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Milk*
  • Prebiotics / administration & dosage
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / blood
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trisaccharides / administration & dosage
  • Trisaccharides / analysis
  • beta-Glucans / administration & dosage
  • beta-Glucans / analysis


  • Biomarkers
  • Micronutrients
  • Prebiotics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Trisaccharides
  • beta-Glucans
  • Interleukin-10
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • 4'-galactooligosaccharide

Associated data