Maternal Immunization as a Strategy to Decrease Susceptibility to Infection in Newborn Infants

Benjamin Lindsey; Beate Kampmann; Christine Jones


Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2013;26(3):248-253. 

In This Article

Inhibition of Infant Immune Response by Maternal Antibody

A potential concern is that high infant preimmunization levels of maternally derived antibodies may inhibit the infant's own responses to some vaccines. Published studies have shown conflicting results, with the effect of maternal IgG varying between vaccines, vaccine doses and vaccine schedules.[1,10–13] Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the inhibitory effect, of which elimination of vaccine antigen by maternal antibody-mediated phagocytosis and epitope masking from infant B-cells are supported with the most evidence.[12]

Blunting of the infants immune response to vaccination may mean immunity from primary immunizations might wane more quickly leaving a period of vulnerability prior to booster vaccinations at 1 year of age. This may not be a reason to dismiss maternal immunization; a reduced antibody titre after infant vaccination may be acceptable if the high morbidity and mortality can be mitigated in the first months of life. The effect of maternal vaccination on infant immune responses to any given vaccine will have to be individually evaluated.