Breaking the code: How is a mother’s immunity transferred to her baby?

Posted on June 24, 2019

Maternal antibodies against some diseases like measles can be transferred from mother to infant, which can provide some protection until the child is old enough for individual vaccinations. However, antibodies to other more serious diseases like polio are less efficiently transferred. System serology is used to compare the quantity and quality of antibodies against pertussis in blood samples from mothers and from the umbilical cords that carry blood, nutrients and immune factors from the placenta to the infant.

Research revealed that the placenta would sift our and deliver antibodies to the infant that can activate natural killer (NK) cells which are key elements of the innate immune system. While some important immune cells might be too immature in newborns to provide effective protection, NK cells are among the most abundant and functional immune cells for the first days of life.

There is also a similar preference for placental transfer of NK activating antibodies against influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, a common disease of childhood. This antibody features also appear to regulate placental selection, which features could possibly build into the next generation vaccines with improved mother-to-child antibody transfer.

There are now new opportunities to create better maternal vaccines and deliver them at the ideal time during pregnancy to maximally protect newborns when they are the most vulnerable. Researchers will actively search for new aspects of maternal: infant immunity that can pave the way for improved maternal vaccines.

Category(s):Child Development, Health / Illness / Medical Issues, Health Psychology

Source material from Here