Feature Article — Babies’ Immune Systems: What Can They Handle?

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When babies are born, they leave the sterile environment of the womb and enter a world filled with germs. Bacteria very quickly start to live on the lining of their noses, mouths and intestines, as well as on their skin. They also come into contact with viruses. In most cases, their immune systems are ready and able to protect them against the most harmful infections.

Soon after birth, babies are also recommended to get vaccines. Some people wonder if the vaccines are too great of an assault on their immune systems, but the reality is that babies’ immune systems encounter more challenges from the environment than from vaccines. Indeed, a scraped knee or the common cold is a greater challenge to the immune system than vaccines.

In this new Science Made Easy video, Dr. Offit describes what babies’ immune systems can handle in the first few months of life, which parts of the immune system need time to mature, and how vaccines given during that time period are designed to help babies overcome some of these challenges.

Go to the video page to watch Babies’ Immune Systems: What Can They Handle?

Additional resources

For more information about the immune system, check out these other Vaccine Education Center resources:

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.