Antibodies are transferred from the mother's blood to the fetus that give the newborn passive defence against infection. Since most of this process takes place during the third trimester of the pregnancy, doctors have regarded very premature babies as being unprotected by such maternal antibodies.
However, now that the total repertoire of maternal anti-viral antibodies has been analysed in neonates by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital, another picture is emerging..
Babies - Week - Antibodies - Author - Dr
"We saw that babies born as early as in week 24 also have maternal antibodies, which surprised us," says corresponding author Dr Petter Brodin, physician and researcher at the Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab) and the Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet.
The study comprised 78 mother-child pairs. 32 of the babies were very premature (born before week 30) and 46 were full-term. The analysis show that the repertoire of maternal antibodies was the same in both groups.
Ideas - Neonate - Immune - System - Infection
"I hope that this makes us question some preconceived ideas about the neonate immune system and infection sensitivity so that we can take even better care of newborns," says Dr Brodin. "Premature babies can be especially sensitive to infection, but that is not because they lack maternal antibodies. We should concentrate more on other possible causes, maybe like their having underdeveloped lung function or weaker skin barriers."
The study was conducted using a newly developed method for simultaneously analysing the presence of antibodies against all the viruses that can infect humans (with the exception of the Zika virus, which was identified later). The method is developed by...
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