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February 19, 1968


JAMA. 1968;203(8):37-50. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140080081045

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Clue Found To Mystery Infant Deaths  Maternal antibody may be a contributing factor in a respiratory disease which causes thousands of infant deaths yearly.This hypothesis is based on the immunologic paradoxes which characterize respiratory syncytial virus (RS).If laboratory and clinical data continue to support it, the premise will be applied in future vaccine trials, said Robert M. Chanock, MD.Many of an estimated 10,000 "pneumonia-like" deaths in infants and young children annually may be traced to RS virus. This has made development of a vaccine against the disease a major goal of several National Institutes of Health investigators since the virus was isolated 12 years ago.Several aspects of this unusually virulent disease—which causes severe lung damage in children under two but little if any illness in older persons—are falling into place, Dr. Chanock believes. Together, they suggest a causative role for maternal antibody.• Infants with