woman purchasing milk

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has sounded the warning alarm against the consumption of raw dairy products, especially for pregnant women and young children.

In a new policy statement released last week, the AAP advised that pregnant women, infants and children consume only pasteurized milk, cheese and other dairy products. The statement was revealed online and will be published in the January 2014 Pediatrics journal. It reviews evidence of dangers associated with unpasteurized dairy products, including deadly infections from Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli.

Unpasteurized milk has the potential to be unsafe for anyone, but it is especially dangerous for young children, the elderly and individuals with compromised immune systems. Risks are particularly high for pregnant women, fetuses and infants, including miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women and meningitis and blood-borne infections in infants and pregnant women.

The AAP also announced their support for a ban against the sale of raw milk in the U.S. Currently, raw milk can legally be sold in at least 30 states, but data shows that pasteurized milk has the same nutritional benefits without the risks.

Pasteurization is recognized worldwide as an essential public health measure to reduce the threat of pathogenic bacteria, according to the National Dairy Council. Its impact on safety has been monumental, and now only 1.5 percent of all foodborne illness outbreaks in the U.S. involve dairy foods.

Before widespread pasteurization, raw dairy products were to blame for numerous foodborne illnesses and outbreaks. The outbreaks today are rare, but raw milk is still the culprit. Between 1998 and 2009, the 1 to 3 percent of dairy consumed in the U.S. as unpasteurized products accounted for 1,837 illnesses, 195 hospitalizations, 93 illness outbreaks and two deaths.

To read the entire American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement, click here.

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