Secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) plays a critical role in gut mucosal immune defense. Initially provided by breastmilk, IgA production by the infant gut is gradually stimulated by developing gut microbiota. This study reports associations between infant fecal IgA concentrations 4 months after birth, breastfeeding status and other pre/postnatal exposures in 47 infants in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development cohort. Breastfed infants and first-born infants had higher median fecal IgA concentrations (23.11 v. 9.34 µg/g protein, P<0.01 and 22.19 v. 8.23 µg/g protein, P=0.04). IgA levels increased successively with exclusivity of breastfeeding (β-coefficient, 0.37, P<0.05). This statistical association was independent of maternal parity and household pets. In the absence of breastfeeding, female sex and pet exposure elevated fecal IgA to levels found in breastfed infants. In addition to breastfeeding, infant fecal IgA associations with pre/postnatal exposures may affect gut immunity and risk of allergic disease.
Keywords: breastfeeding; immunoglobulin A; parity; pets.