Despite concerted international efforts, mortality from neonatal infections remains unacceptably high in some areas of the world, particularly for premature infants. Recent developments in flow cytometry and next-generation sequencing technologies have led to major discoveries over the past few years, providing a more integrated understanding of the developing human immune system in the context of its microbial environment. We review these recent findings, focusing on how in human newborns incomplete maturation of the immune system before a full term of gestation impacts on their vulnerability to infection. We also discuss some of the clinical implications of this research in guiding the design of more-accurate age-adapted diagnostic and preventive strategies for neonatal sepsis.
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