Newborn babies’ immune system development and levels of vitamin D have been found to vary according to the month in which they were born, according to a new research co-authored by an Indian-origin researcher.
The new research, from scientists at Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Oxford, provides a potential biological basis as to why a person’s risk of developing the neurological condition multiple sclerosis (MS) is influenced by their month of birth.
In the study, samples of cord blood were taken from 50 babies born in November and 50 born in May between 2009 and 2010 in London.
The blood was analysed to measure levels of vitamin D and levels of autoreactive T-cells. T-cells are white blood cells which play a crucial role in the body’s immune response by identifying and destroying infectious agents, such as viruses.
However, some T-cells are “autoreactive” and capable of attacking the body’s own cells, triggering autoimmune diseases, and should be eliminated by the immune system during its development. This job of processing T-cells is carried out by the thymus, a specialised organ in the immune system located in the upper chest cavity.