Does low IgA in human milk predispose the infant to development of cow's milk allergy?
We sought a relationship between total and cow's milk-specific IgA levels in colostrum and human milk and subsequent development of cow's milk allergy (CMA) in the breast-fed infant. The study included 87 nursing mothers and their infants (age, 2 d to 7 mo), followed prospectively up to 1 y. At 1 y, 48 mothers (69% with an atopic constitution) had an infant with CMA, verified by clinical cow's milk challenge, eight (38% with an atopic constitution) had a baby who had had protracted infantile colic but no CMA (disease control group), and 31 (23% with an atopic constitution) had a healthy infant. Total breast-milk IgA was measured by radial immunodiffusion, and IgA antibodies to cow's milk were measured by ELISA during the breast-feeding period. The levels of total and cow's milk-specific IgA antibodies in colostrum and human milk were significantly lower in the mothers whose baby later developed CMA [estimated third day value, 0.38 g/L (95% confidence interval, 0. 24-0.82)] than in the ones whose infant remained healthy or had had infantile colic but not CMA [0.82 g/L (95% confidence interval, 0. 99-1.51); p < 0.05]. The infants developed CMA significantly more often if the concentration of total IgA antibodies in milk was <0.25 g/L, when measured between 6 d and 4 wk postpartum [sensitivity, 0. 55; specificity, 0.92; odds ratio, 14.7 (95% confidence interval, 3. 1-70.2); p < 0.001]. The levels of cow's milk-specific IgA positively correlated with the levels of total IgA but not with the development of CMA in the infant. The levels of total or cow's milk-specific IgA did not correlate with maternal atopy. IgA antibodies in colostrum and human milk may prevent antigen entry at the intestinal surface of the breast-fed infant. A low IgA content in human milk may lead to defective exclusion of food antigens and thus predispose an offspring to develop food allergies.
Department of Dermatology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, FIN-00029 HUCH, Helsinki, Finland., ,
Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
Pub Type(s)Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't