Study Shows That Babies May Have “Super Immune Defense”

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Science tends to consider the immune system of newborns to be a less developed version of the adult system. However, a study from Cornell University in the United States challenges this view by demonstrating that babies’ T cells, responsible for defending against diseases, outperform those of adults when fighting a variety of infections.

The study, led by Brian Rudd and Andrew Grimson and published in the journal Science Immunology, reveals fundamental differences between adult and neonatal T cells. While adults excel at recognizing specific antigens and forming immunological memory, neonatal ones engage the innate arm of the immune system, offering a rapid and non-specific response against a variety of microbes.

“We know that neonatal T cells do not protect as well as adult T cells against repeated infections by the same pathogen. But neonatal T cells have an enhanced ability to protect the host against the early stages of an infection,” said Rudd.

Anete Grumach, coordinator of the Scientific Department of Inborn Errors of Immunity at the Brazilian Association of Allergy and Immunology (Asbai), details that mature T cells are already formed at birth, however, they have not yet been stimulated for a specific response to antigens. “It is normal to use adult standards to evaluate the newborn’s response. Therefore, research shows that there are other forms of compensation in the so-called immature phase of the child.”

Antônio Condino Neto, president of the Immunology Department of the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics (SBP), emphasizes that it is necessary to validate the study to know the relevance of the discovery. “It is necessary to reiterate that the recommendations for breastfeeding, sleep hygiene, food hygiene and, above all, vaccines, remain valid. This is so that the child can build his immunological repertoire and not develop serious infectious diseases. People should not think that with the discovery of this mechanism, children are immunological super ‘responders’, let’s not take that path.” (AI)

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