Abstract and Keywords
Research on young animals and children has demonstrated that the prenatal and early rearing environments can leave an indelible mark on the immature immune system. During normal development, these environmental influences can have beneficial consequences including the promotion of immune tolerance during pregnancy, help in the programming of regulatory set points in the fetus, and prime immune responses during childhood. Thus, this aspect of immunity in the young host can be viewed as a “learning system,” very amenable to change, and often in a favorable manner. However, this same flexibility may result in a vulnerability to physical and psychological insults, including to a poor diet, pathogen exposure, or parental loss and maltreatment. The take- home message of developmental psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is that the environmental context can promote resilience and immune vigor, as well as be the reason for lacunae and impairments that persist into adulthood, accounting for individual differences in morbidity and longevity.
Keywords: pregnancy, placenta, fetus, prenatal, rearing, weaning cytokines, thymus, tolerance, microbiota, passive immunity, antibody, autoiommune cortisol, antenatal corticosteroids, allergies, asthma
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