Challenges in infant immunity: implications for responses to infection and vaccines

Journal name:
Nature Immunology
Year published:
Published online
Corrected online

Infections in infants continue to be an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Understanding the immune mechanisms that operate in infants is necessary for the development of new approaches to improve the health of infants around the world.

At a glance


  1. Worldwide mortality in neonates and children under 5 years of age.
    Figure 1: Worldwide mortality in neonates and children under 5 years of age.

    (a) Worldwide causes of neonatal deaths (birth to 1 month of age). Premature infants are those born at less than 32 weeks of gestational age. (b) Worldwide causes of death in children under the age of 5. Figure adapted from ref. 25.

  2. Present understanding of the factors that contribute to the state of an infant's immune system.
    Figure 2: Present understanding of the factors that contribute to the state of an infant's immune system.

Change history

Corrected online 28 February 2011
In the version of this article initially published, the length of term gestation in the fourth sentence is incorrect. This should read “(after 37 weeks of gestation).” The error has been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.


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Author information


  1. Mercy PrabhuDas is with the Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

  2. Becky Adkins is in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, USA.

  3. Hayley Gans is in the Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.

  4. Christopher King is with the Center for Global Health and Diseases, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

  5. Ofer Levy is in the Department of Medicine Children's Hospital Boston & Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

  6. Octavio Ramilo is with the Center for Vaccines and Immunity Nationwide Children's Hospital and Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.

  7. Claire-Anne Siegrist is with the Center for Vaccinology and Neonatal Immunology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Competing financial interests

C.-A.S. has received grants from vaccine manufacturers to assess vaccine candidates, including neonatal immunization models, and has received reimbursement for travel costs for participation in scientific advisory boards; the laboratory of O.L. has received support from VentiRx, which develops TLR8 agonists; and H.G. has been a consultant for Merck.

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