Mennonite Infants May Be Better Protected Against Allergies

By Medscape Staff

October 12, 2021

The breast milk of mothers in a Mennonite community was shown to have higher concentrations of antibodies, suggesting that children in traditional farming communities may acquire better protection against allergic diseases.

What to know:

  • Allergies are less common among Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities compared with the general population in Western countries, suggesting traditional lifestyles may be protective against atopic diseases and allergies to food and airborne particles.

  • A study published in Frontiers in Immunology identifies a "farm-life effect" that is passed from mothers to their children through breast milk.

  • In a community of Old Order Mennonites in New York, an analysis of mothers' breast milk showed it contained higher concentrations of IgA1 and IgA2 antibodies, as well as of beneficial microbes and metabolites, than that of mothers in the nearby city of Rochester.

  • According to the researchers, the results indicate that exposure to farm animals and unpasteurized farm milk and eggs may confer immunity to allergic diseases to women on traditional farms.

  • The findings may help explain the rise of atopic diseases in Western populations.

This is a summary of the article "Breast milk from Mennonite moms on farms better protects babies from allergies" published by Frontiers Science News on October 11. The full article can be found on blog.frontiers.org.

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