London, Jan 28 : A recent study has revealed that breast milk can help in developing tolerance against asthma in the infants.
More than 300 million people globally suffer from allergic asthma and some scientists believe that exposure to allergens, or a lack of exposure, at a very young age may be important in its development.
The team of researchers from the INSERM institute in France conducted the study using a mice model.
The female mice was exposed to an allergen, called ovalbumin, a protein found in egg whites and allowed the mothers of newborn mice to breathe in the protein.
The findings revealed that the allergen was transferred to the baby mice via breast milk, which in turn developed an immune system tolerance in the offspring.
"This study may pave the way for the design of new strategies to prevent the development of allergic diseases," BBC quoted the researchers.
Previous researches have also revealed that breastfeeding lowers the risk of becoming asthmatic but other studies contradict it.
"Because breastfeeding provides many proven benefits for babies, current advice from the Department of Health, which Asthma UK supports, is that, where possible, babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life," Sally Rose, an asthma nurse specialist at Asthma UK,
However, Dr Charles McSharry, an immunologist from Glasgow University, believes that comparing the immune reactions of mice and humans can be difficult.
"It is far more difficult to induce the kind of immune tolerance they have achieved in mice in humans, which is a key difference," he said.
The study also appears in Nature Medicine.