The maternal immune status deeply influences the immune capacity of the newborn, both by passive transfer of immunity and by priming of the developing immune system. The use of vaccination of pregnant women to protect the child is already much used and will be developed to encompass more pathogens in the future.
A more specific approach to detection of disease and to specific therapy in antibody-mediated diseases of the newborn will follow the unraveling of the mysteries of self tolerance. Recognition of precipitating factors and manipulation of the immune system by modulation of specific antibody responses and induction of tolerance may in the future lead to specific immunological therapy of both the mother and the child.
See also: Anemia, autoimmune hemolytic in human; Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura; Idiotype network; IgG; Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, human; Neuromuscular junction autoimmunity; Neonatal immune response; Ontogeny of the immune response; Rh antigens; Rheumatoid arthritis, human; Rheumatological disorders; Sjögrens syndrome; Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), human; Thyroid autoimmunity, human.
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