New research could pave the way to vaccines for babies in the womb that prevent pregnancy complications such as premature births and pre-eclampsia.
US researchers have identified naturally occurring cells that suppress a mum-to-be’s immune system and prevent her from rejecting her own foetus, reports The Press Association.
Scientists say these T-cells are retained by the body after a baby is delivered. The cells ‘remember’ the first pregnancy and provide protection for subsequent foetuses.
They believe developing a vaccine for pregnant women that activates the same cells may protect against complications.
“These memory features illustrate why complications become reduced in subsequent pregnancy, but can also be broadly applied to new ways to better control the balance between immune stimulation and suppression for preventing auto-immune diseases,” said lead researcher Dr Sing Sing Way.
This means the findings could also lead to vaccines against insulin dependent, or type 1, diabetes.