Can exposure to house dust mite allergens through breastmilk lead to food allergy in infancy?

A research team including experts at the University of Western Australia has found that some mothers shed house dust mite allergens in breastmilk. House dust mite allergens are known to be responsible for respiratory allergies such as rhinitis and asthma. However, this new work shows there is also a link to development of food allergies.

Pre-clinical experiments demonstrated for the first time that oral exposure of infants to the ‘Der p’ protein found in house dust mites through breastmilk impairs the infant’s gut mucosal immunity. This impairment appears to have long-term effects on IgE-mediated food allergy susceptibility.

A great deal of previous work has shown the importance of breastfeeding in allergy prevention. Further research will be important to explore how to prevent Der p house mite proteins inhaled by the mother from triggering food allergies in breastfed infants.

More information about this and other recent research into food allergy prevention is available in a University of Western Australia press release.

Reference: Rekima et al. 2019 Journal of allergy and clinical immunology DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2019.12.912