Women in the traditional farming community have milk rich in good bacteria and antibodies
Studies suggest that modern life may leave breast milk less beneficial for babies and more prone to allergies.
Experts have analyzed the milk of dozens of Mennonite women who, like the Amish, follow a traditional way of life devoid of modern technology and pesticides.
Samples were also taken from a woman living in the nearby town of Rochester.
By comparing the collections, we found that Mennonite women produce milk rich in antibodies and bacteria.
Researchers at the University of Rochester found that their traditional lifestyle of exposing women to livestock and unpasteurized foods helped “program” the development of the gut microbiota and the baby’s immune system. I believe.
They also say that the “effects on farm life” may explain why allergies are less common among Mennonites.
Dr Anti Seppo, a pediatrician involved in the study, argued that the findings were important because they could explain why the incidence of atopic dermatitis was “explosive” in Western countries.
He added: “Maybe one day this information could help prevent or alleviate these illnesses. ”
The Old Order Mennonite Christian Anabaptists are heritage people from Switzerland and southern Germany and live on traditional family farms with little modern technology.
More than a quarter, or Britons and a third of Americans, are allergic to peanuts, shellfish, latex, etc.
However, immunologists believe that number will continue to increase over the next decade.
Some scientists suggest this is due to the “hygiene hypothesis” (modern sterile life weakens our immune system).
What are the causes of allergies?
Allergies occur when the body reacts as if it were harmful to certain foods or substances.
They are very common and affect about a quarter of Britons and a third of Americans.
Children are more likely to suffer from allergies, but some decrease with age.
Most allergies, such as pollen, dust mites, and foods, are mild and controllable, but serious reactions can occur.
It is not known why allergies occur, but most people affected have a family history of allergies or closely related conditions such as asthma and eczema.
The number of people with allergies is increasing year by year.
The reason is not understood, but one of the main theories is that it is the result of living in a cleaner, sterile environment that reduces the number of bacteria that the immune system has to process.
It is believed that contact with harmless substances can cause an overreaction.
It is claimed that the immune system does not learn to control its response to everyday particles such as dust and pollen without being exposed to dirt and bacteria early in life.
This can cause the body to overreact when it comes in contact with harmless substances.
But the science behind the theory is still controversial, and other researchers say they are distracted from finding the real cause of the increased prevalence of allergies.
New findings published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology could add weight to the theory.
Mennonites (a group of 1.4 million people scattered in pockets around the world) have a low prevalence of atopic dermatitis.
Anabaptist Christians live on traditional family farms with little modern technology. Their way of life resembles rural communities in Western countries in the early 1900s.
Lead author Dr Kirsi Järvinen-Seppo said: “This lifestyle was once common around the world.
‘today [it] In Western countries, it is heavily restricted to certain religious communities, such as the Amish and Old Order Mennonites.
“Allergies are much less common among them, which suggests that their traditional lifestyle may be a protective factor for the development of atopic diseases. ”
The study collected breast milk from 52 elderly Mennonite mothers with young children living in Penn Yan, NY.
The researchers compared their sample to 29 mothers living in Rochester.
The mothers have completed a study on their lifestyle, their environment and whether their babies have symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
Old Order Mennonite mothers, a division of the Swiss and South German Heritage Group, are more likely to give birth at home, and their children are exposed to livestock, dogs, unpasteurized food, and barns. I did.
Their milk had high levels of antibodies against food allergies, dust mites and bacteria related to cattle.
They also had higher levels of cytokines, which are important proteins in regulating the immune system.
Dr Järvinen-Seppo added:
“The results also suggest that babies can get some protection against allergic diseases from their mother’s milk. ”