Tiny Molecules in Human Breast Milk Might Reduce Atopic Dermatitis and Food Allergies - medtigo



Tiny Molecules in Human Breast Milk Might Reduce Atopic Dermatitis and Food Allergies

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According to Science Daily, although the causes are unknown, breastfed infants are thought to have a lower risk of developing allergic disorders such as eczema and food allergies than formula-fed peers.

Researchers at Penn State’s College of Medicine discovered that tiny molecules in human breast milk might protect children against allergies such as atopic dermatitis and food allergies.

The researchers believed that their results might pave the way for therapies directed at mothers, such as diet and activity regimens, to reduce the occurrence of allergy symptoms in children.  

Atopic disorders, including food allergies, asthma, and a skin condition known as atopic dermatitis, afflict around one-third of children and are triggered by an immune system overreacting to environmental stimuli.  

“Infants who breastfeed beyond three months may have a decreased risk for these illnesses,” said Dr. Steven Hicks, associate professor of pediatrics and pediatrician at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.  

Hicks studies how a child’s unique blend of genes, environment, and biology form and develop their brain. Microribonucleic acids (miRNAs) are small molecules that may influence gene expression all across the body.

His previous research implies that miRNAs might be utilized to diagnose illnesses such as autism and concussion. Four of these miRNAs have been connected to allergic diseases, suggesting that they may give some protection against allergies in infants.  

Researchers discovered that breastfeeding was advantageous for both the newborn and the mother after tracking 163 moms and their infants for at least four months. They tracked how long each infant was nursed and how many distinct miRNAs were found in the mother’s breast milk (0, 4, and 16 weeks).

The number of particular miRNAs eaten by the children was determined based on mothers’ estimations of how frequently they breastfed and the amount of those miRNAs in their milk samples. Throughout the investigation, newborns were monitored for atopic dermatitis, food allergies, and wheezing.  

Atopic dermatitis affected 41 (25%) of the children examined, food allergies affected another 33 (20%) and wheezing affected 10 (6%) of the babies. Breastfed children that did not develop asthma consumed far more miRNA-375-3p (miR-375) than their atopic counterparts.


There were no differences between atopic and nonatopic newborns regarding maternal variables, baby characteristics, or environmental exposures. Researchers also discovered that miR-375 levels rose in breastfed newborns and were more significant in moms with a lower BMI. On September 27, the findings were published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  

Hicks postulated that greater levels of miR-375 during lactation might explain the link between longer nursing times and a lower prevalence of atopy. The first postnatal month saw a significant increase in miR-375 levels, which continued until the fourth. Almost all human milk samples (99.9%) contain miR-375, albeit this miRNA accounts for just a tiny portion of the total miRNA content of breast milk.

He also believes the findings might pave the way for novel techniques to avoid allergy development in newborns. More study is needed to validate these findings, understand how miR-375 protects against allergies, and devise techniques for raising miR-375 levels in breast milk.  

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