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article imageImmune system of babies appears 'strong'

By Tim Sandle     Sep 25, 2014 in Health
Most studies suggest that the immune system of new-born babies is weak. However, new research indicates that the baby’s immune cells may have the ability to trigger an inflammatory response to bacteria.
Furthermore, the research suggests that while a baby’s immune system works differently to that of an adult, a baby can mount a strong immune defense.
The immune system is made up of different types of immune cells. These include T cells (the abbreviation "T" stands for thymus, the organ in which their final stage of development occurs.) These cells target cells infected with viruses and bacteria. Previous studies had suggested that babies do not have T cells, and that these cells are formed a little later. The reason for, this argument went, was that T cells in babies are supressed in case they work against the developing baby’s body (through inflammatory damage). However, a new study, which examined many samples of blood from twenty-eight highly premature babies, suggests that this is not the case and that babies do possess T cells.
That said, the T cells in the babies were slightly different to those found in adults. This suggests a less sophisticated immune system, but an immune system nonetheless. T cells are very important in cell-mediated immunity, which is the defense against tumor cells and pathogenic organisms inside body cells.
The researchers suggest that the T cell activity could become a target for future treatments aimed at boosting the immune system of new-born babies in intensive care.
The findings have been published in Nature Medicine. The paper it titled “Interleukin-8 (CXCL8) production is a signatory T cell effector function of human newborn infants”.
More about Babies, Immunity, Immune cells, Infection
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