WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Infant immune systems may strengthen with HPV exposure

Infant immune systems strengthen after HBV exposure | Courtesy of sciencedaily.com
A recent Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) study suggests that exposing infants’ immune systems to Hepatitis B Virus Infection (HBV) increases the maturity of infants’ immune systems, potentially increasing the chances of infants surviving bacterial infections throughout early life.

These study results dramatically change how mother-to-child HBV infections are viewed and may change treatments given to patients with chronic hepatitis B. Health professionals previously saw HBV infectious as a way to exploit the immaturity of the infant immune system, which results in a chronic infection.

HBV is a widespread health concern in Asia. Approximately 300 million people have HBV infections throughout the world, and six out of 100 people in Singapore are chronic carriers of HBV. Most chronic HBV infections are contracted at birth.

There is an effective and safe vaccine for HBV infectious, but 5 to 10 percent of babies born to mothers with HBV still become infected with the virus.

"Our work contributes to the understanding of how HBV exposure before birth shapes the global immune response of newborn infants and transforms the way we look at HBV,” study author and research fellow at Duke-NUS Michelle Hong said. “Despite causing diseases later in life, HBV might actually be beneficial to humans early in life."

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