Innate immunity of the newborn: basic mechanisms and clinical correlates

Nat Rev Immunol. 2007 May;7(5):379-90. doi: 10.1038/nri2075.


The fetus and newborn face a complex set of immunological demands, including protection against infection, avoidance of harmful inflammatory immune responses that can lead to pre-term delivery, and balancing the transition from a sterile intra-uterine environment to a world that is rich in foreign antigens. These demands shape a distinct neonatal innate immune system that is biased against the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This bias renders newborns at risk of infection and impairs responses to many vaccines. This Review describes innate immunity in newborns and discusses how this knowledge might be used to prevent and treat infection in this vulnerable population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Female
  • Fetus / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / embryology*
  • Immune System / growth & development*
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Infant, Newborn / immunology*
  • Placenta / immunology
  • Pregnancy
  • Uterus / immunology