Hematopoietic growth factor levels in term and preterm infants

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The problems of immunologic adaptation during the transitional period from intra-to extrauterine life are responsible for the physiologic immaturity of the immune function in newborn infants. In preterm neonates the immunodeficiency is more severe and prolonged and is associated with a higher incidence of infections and sepsis. Furthermore, due to immaturity of the hematologic system, anemia, thrombocytopenia, and neutropenia are frequently observed in very low birth weight infants. The dysregulation of cytokine and hematopoietic growth factor synthesis is an important contributory factor to the complex deficiency of immunologic and hematologic function in the neonate and may explain the reduced incidence of acute graft-versus-host disease observed after cord blood transplantation in children. Human milk is a rich source of most of the cytokines that are reduced in the neonate. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and erythropoietin are currently under evaluation in newborn infants with septic neutropenia or anemia of prematurity.

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