Age patterns of immunoglobulins G, A & M in healthy children and the influence of breast feeding and vaccination status


Dimitrios Trichopoulos, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA


Serum levels of immunoglobulins G, A and M were determined by nephelometry in 414 infants and children aged 1 month to 14 years. The children were admitted to “Aghia Sophia” Teaching Hospital for Children for surgical corrections of minor anatomical abnormalities, but they were otherwise healthy. Statistical analysis was performed through multiple regression after logarithmic transformation of the immunoglobulin values. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels increased significantly by 18% per year until the age of 5 years and by 2% per year thereafter. Among children less than 5 years old, IgG levels tended to increase significantly with the number of doses of either DTP or Sabin vaccine. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels increased significantly by 27% until the age of 7 years and by 4% thereafter. Among children less than 7 years old, history of breast feeding was significantly associated with higher levels of IgA. Vaccination with either DTP or Sabin was associated with elevation of IgA levels among younger and, to a lesser extent, older children, but the elevations did not reach statistical significance. Immunoglobulin M (IgM) levels increased rapidly during the first 12 months of life and very slowly thereafter and they were significantly higher among girls. Among children less than one year old, there was evidence that vaccination with either DTP or Sabin was associated with elevated IgM levels, although the differences were not statistically significant possibly because of small numbers of infants in the study sample. The results of the present study demonstrate the age- and sex-dependent changes of immunoglobulins G, A and M, they indicate that vaccination is associated with higher immunoglobulin levels among younger children, and suggest that breast feeding may increase IgA levels among children less than 7 years old.;