The sudden increase in prenatal immunity at the time of birth, currently reported by Woolpert and his co-workers1 of Ohio State University, challenges conventional concepts of immunology. The mammalian fetus is more susceptible to pathogenic micro-organisms than the postnatal animal of the same species. This has been adequately demonstrated by prenatal injections of vaccinia virus,2 herpes virus and the virus of human influenza.3 Newborn young and mature guinea pigs, for example, are both insusceptible to the latter virus. Relatively large doses of influenza virus may be injected intracerebrally without the production of recognizable lesions or symptoms. When injected intracerebrally through the maternal abdominal wall into half grown or full grown fetuses, however, the same virus leads to a widespread dissemination and multiplication of the virus throughout the fetal tissues. Intranasal mouse titrations show that the virus reaches its maximum concentration in the fetal lungs, liver and kidneys
NEONATAL IMMUNITY. JAMA. 1941;116(15):1647–1648. doi:10.1001/jama.1941.02820150037013
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