To explain the mechanism for induction and production of specific antibodies found in the newborn already at birth, without previous known exposure to the antigen, we chose a model that presumably excluded the possibility of specific antibodies being transferred from the mother to the fetus. Specific IgG, IgA, and IgM antibodies against Escherichia coli and poliovirus antigens were determined with ELISA in serum, saliva, and amniotic fluid from hypogammaglobulinemic and IgA-deficient mothers as well as in cord serum, saliva, and meconium from their offspring. All the mothers lacked IgA and some also lacked IgM antibodies, which were found in their healthy newborns. The amniotic fluid from a hypogammaglobulinemic mother lacking IgA contained small amounts of IgA antibodies, which were also found in the neonate, suggesting a fetal origin. There was evidence for the presence of antiidiotypic antibodies to poliovirus in the cord sera. We propose that idiotypic and/or antiidiotypic IgG antibodies transferred via the placenta from the mother to the fetus can initiate specific immune responses seen in the newborn. Thus, it may be that transplacental IgG not only passively protects the newborn, but also actively primes the fetus during fetal life via its content of idiotypic and/or antiidiotypic antibodies.

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Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Hahn-Zoric, M., Carlsson, B., Björkander, J., Osterhaus, A., Mellander, L., & Hanson, L. A. (1992). Presence of non-maternal antibodies in newborns of mothers with antibody deficiencies. Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology, 32, 150–154. Retrieved from