Pregnant mom's exposure to flu vaccine kick-starts fetal immune system

June 1, 2007

Some researchers have hypothesized that the fetus can be exposed to and mount an immune response against allergens to which the mother has been exposed, and this may have an effect on the development of allergic sensitivity (e.g. eczema and asthma) later in an infant’s life. However this hypothesis has remained controversial because of an inability to detect antigen-specific T cells in cord blood. Recently, a newly developed technique known as MHC tetramer staining has facilitated the detection of antigen-specific T cells.

In the June 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, a team of researchers led by Rachel Miller from Columbia University used this technique to study cord blood B and T cell immune responses following maternal vaccination against influenza with Fluzone during pregnancy.

The vaccination of pregnant women against influenza is considered safe and is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors detected anti-Fluzone antibodies in approximately 40% of cord blood specimens examined. These results and further data reported in the study establish that B and T cell responses to antigens occur in utero following maternal vaccination against influenza, supporting the theory that the human neonatal immune system is not deficient or incompetent but, rather, capable of responding to environmental exposures.

These conclusions have important implications for determining when immune responses to environmental exposures begin.

Source: Journal of Clinical Investigation

Explore further: World first trial of Tasmanian devil vaccine begins in the wild

Related Stories

Deadly fish virus still present in Wisconsin lake

October 23, 2015

In May 2007, hundreds of freshwater drum—also known as sheepshead—turned up dead in Lake Winnebago and nearby Little Lake Butte des Morts, both inland lakes near Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The fish were splotched with red and ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.