Saturday, May 14, 2011
In the hills outside Bologna in northern Italy a slightly peculiar farm has become the centre of a health experiment that harks back to the practices of ancient Greece and Rome.
The farm is home to 700 donkeys and produces donkey milk, a product that is creating a lot of interest among health professionals.
Donkey milk is proving to be a viable alternative for young children and infants in Italy who suffer from allergies to cows' milk.
More than 50% of what the farm produces is sold directly to paediatric units in the region.
Dr Giovanna Monti, a paediatrician at the head of the allergy unit at Turin's St Anna hospital, has been studying the effects of donkey milk on babies and children since 2004.
"We use this milk mostly for children who are allergic to certain proteins in cows' milk," she told the BBC World Service's Health Check programme. "These proteins are often also present in formulated milk too."