Neonate immunity

Mon Mar 9 12:26:18 EST 1998

Sorry to say that I think you should buy your instructor lunch.  While 
you are correct in the idea that the neonate would be protected 
against most of the things the mother is immune to, there are other 
considerations to think about.
First, consider the classes of antibodies.  The neonate receives 
primarily IgG from the mother, both in utero, and via milk.  For this 
reason, the neonate has no mucosal immunity, unlike the mother, who 
develops mucosal immunity following mucosal exposure to 
microorganisms.  Even though the neonate may have plasma IgG, this 
does not protect the mucous membranes.
Second, consider the antibody titers.  Just because the neonate has 
plasma Ab, this doesn't mean that the Abs are in sufficient amounts to 
be protective.  In addition, since the neonatal immune system is 
underdeveloped, the neonate won't respond as vigorously to microbial 
challenge as the mother would.
Third, an important facet of immunity is cell-mediated, which is not 
transferred to the neonate.  Rather, the neonate must develop this arm 
of the immune response on his own.  The lack of a well-developed CMI 
response leaves the neonate at risk for both viral and fungal 
infections.  For this reason, oral Candida infections are very common 
in the first 3 - 6 months of life.

Jay Mone'

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