WOMEN who eat low-fat yoghurt while pregnant increase their chances of having children who develop asthma and hayfever, a study has found.
Daily yoghurt consumption raised the odds of giving birth to a child who suffered from asthma by the age of seven by 1.6 times.
Eating yoghurt almost doubled a mother's chances of her child being diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, or hayfever.
However, the same study of almost 62,000 women in the Netherlands found that drinking milk during pregnancy had a small protective effect.
The researchers wanted to see whether fatty acids found in dairy products could help prevent childhood allergies.
They are still investigating the surprising link and believe it may not be a direct causal association.
One possibility is that yoghurt consumption is a proxy marker for dietary and lifestyle factors.
It may also be that non-fat nutrient components in yoghurt play a part in increasing allergy risk.
Lead researcher Dr Ekaterina Maslova, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, US, said: "This is the first study of its kind to link low-fat yoghurt intake during pregnancy with an increased risk of asthma and hayfever in children.
"This could be for a number of reasons and we will further investigate whether this is linked to certain nutrients or whether people who ate yoghurt regularly had similar lifestyle and dietary patterns which could explain the increased risk of asthma."
Results of the study will be presented at the European Respiratory Society's annual meeting in Amsterdam on September 25. They were made available online today.
Researchers collected questionnaire and health registry data on 61,912 women.