Newborns are highly susceptible to enteric infections. It was previously assumed this was due to immaturity of their immune systems but new research in the laboratory of Dr. Gabriel Nunez, Paul de Kruif Professor of Academic Pathology, suggests otherwise. As published in the journal Science, Nunez's team found that the increased susceptibility to infection is caused by the absence of particular protective bacteria in the gut microbiota, rather than the age of the immune system.
The studies by Nunez and co-first authors and research fellows Yun-Gi Kim, Ph.D., and Kei Sakamoto, MD, PhD, in collaboration with their colleagues from UM, the University of Chicago and Keio University in Japan, were funded by the National Institutes of Health. The article in Science can be found at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/356/6335/315.full.pdf.