Immune factors in breast milk and the development of atopic disease

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2012 Dec;55(6):641-7. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3182617a9d.


Breast-feeding provides protection against infections and contains numerous factors that modulate and promote the development of the infant immune system. These factors include secretory IgA, antimicrobial proteins like CD14, cytokines, and fatty acids. Studies examining the role of breast-feeding in the development of allergic disease in infants demonstrate potentially protective as well as neutral or nonprotective effects, likely due to the heterogeneity in their study design. In this overview, we explore the potential role of immune factors in the breast milk, as well as selected probiotics, in the development of allergy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / prevention & control
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control
  • Immune System / growth & development*
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / metabolism
  • Immunologic Factors / metabolism*
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / metabolism
  • Milk, Human / immunology*
  • Milk, Human / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Fatty Acids
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors