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Breast Milk IgA Levels in the Old Order Mennonite Vs. City Mothers
Sunday, March 6, 2016
South Exhibit Hall H (Convention Center)
Mahta Mortezavi, MD, Kirsi E Jarvinen-Seppo, PHD, Camille A Martina, PHD, Richard J. Looney, MD FAAAAI, Kirsi M. Jarvinen-Seppo, MD PhD FAAAAI
Rationale:   Epidemiologic studies have shown an increase in the incidence of atopic disease in urban compared with rural environments.  We have recruited subjects from the Old Order Mennonite (OOM) Community in Penn Yan, NY, with agrarian lifestyles and exposure to unpasteurized milk.  An initial survey of this population found that OOM had a dramatically lower incidence of atopic diseases compared with the subjects from the nearest city in Rochester, NY.  Because previous studies have reported higher levels of breast milk IgA associated with environmental factors related to microbial load and low incidence of atopic diseases, we hypothesized that total IgA levels would be higher in breast milk from OOM than in city mothers.

Methods:   In this pilot study, breast milk samples were collected from mothers when the infants were between 1-2 months of age.  Fresh milk samples were de-fatted and stored at -80°C.  The total IgA level in the milk was then measured using a sandwich ELISA assay. 

Results: Breast milk was collected from 15 mothers in the OOM group and 13 mothers in the city group.  The mean IgA level was 467 ug/ml (72-2270 ug/ml) in the OOM mothers and 571 ug/ml  (77-2507 ug/ml) in the city cohort; the difference was not statistically significant.   

Conclusions: Our preliminary results do not support the view that total IgA in breast milk reflects maternal microbial pressure.  Future studies include measurement of secretory and specific IgA in breast milk that could serve as protective factors leading to a lower incidence of atopic diseases amongst OOM children.