7 Jun 2012

Asthma prevention measure sought

7:09 am on 7 June 2012

Massey University is investigating whether drinking raw milk could protect children from developing asthma.

Professor Jeroen Douwes, whose project has just been granted $1.2 million by the Health Research Council, says the live bacteria in unpasteurised milk may help the body develop an immune response.

The team plans to recruit 300 urban families for the study.

Overall, the Health Research Council has announced $65.2 million worth of funding for 51 studies.

A team from Auckland University has been allocated $4.9 million to further its research into the microbes behind hospital acquired infections, rheumatic fever and tuberculosis.

Other researchers are looking at treatments to prevent brain damage in premature babies, the impact of the couch potato lifestyle and the genetic basis of happiness.

Dr Tamlin Conner has received a grant of $150,000 for this. She says happier people are less likely to develop chronic diseases associated with stress and also recover faster.

She's using cellphones and the internet to track people's emotional state over the day, then testing their immune response and stress hormone levels.

And $150,000 has been granted to look at ways to combat unhealthy, stuffy classrooms through low-cost solar ventilation systems.

Mikael Boulic says many classroom windows stay closed all winter, forcing children to breathe in pathogens and pollutants.

As well as testing the air in the classrooms, researchers will take throat swabs from students, record coughing and sneezing, and note absentee rates.