Many health experts have pronounced the importance of breastfeeding especially during the first six months of giving birth. It is known to be beneficial for both mother and child. Turns out, breastmilk may also help protect infants from developing food allergies. According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, breastmilk of mothers who eat foods that commonly cause allergy, such as milk, eggs and peanuts can protect newborns from developing food allergies. Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in the US revealed that breastfeeding can promote tolerance to the foods that most often cause allergies.
- Many health experts have pronounced the importance of breastfeeding
- Breastmilk may also help protect infants from developing food allergies
- Breastfeeding can promote tolerance to the foods
For the study conducted on mice, milk from mothers exposed to egg protein gave protection against egg allergy only to the mother's own off-spring, but also to fostered newborns whose birth mothers had not received eggs.
Newborns gained an insignificant degree of protection from mothers who were exposed to egg during pregnancy but did not breastfeed them. The protective effect was strongest when the newborns were born to and nursed by mothers who were exposed to egg before and during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Previous research had not been conclusive, with some studies suggesting a protective role for breastmilk, and others suggesting that children could become allergic to foods they encountered through their mother's diet.
"This elegantly designed and controlled study shows that mothers should feel free to eat a healthy and diverse diet throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding," said James R Baker, CEO and Chief Medical Officer of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).
"Eating a range of nutritious foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding will not promote food allergies in developing babies, and may protect them from food allergy," said Baker.
By identifying these proteins and proposing a mechanism through which mother and baby contribute to the development of food tolerance in the newborn mouse, the research opens new opportunities to study how the protections break down in the case of food allergy and how such breakdowns might be prevented.
With Inputs from PTI