The research showed that infants fed organic dairy products, and whose mothers had also eaten organic dairy during pregnancy, had a 36 per cent lower incidence of eczema than those who consumed conventional dairy products.
This is the first example of a direct positive health impact from eating organic food, and will be published in the peer-reviewed British Journal of Nutrition.
Organic dairy is thought to offer benefits because of its increased levels of conjugated linoleic acid isomers (CLA), which are also found in the breast milk of feeding mothers. This suggests that the acids are an important part of the infant diet.
Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, described the research as 'a major landmark':
'Given the strong evidence that organic has more beneficial nutrients, and the absence of harmful additives, common sense suggests that organic food is better for your health. It's good to see this starting to be confirmed by scientific research,' he said.
He added that the Food Standards Agency's stance on organic food, which states that there is no real health benefit over conventionally grown food, is now 'out of date'.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist November 2007