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Thread: Immunity to disease - passing it to your offspring?

  1. #1 Immunity to disease - passing it to your offspring? 
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    I have read that newborns possess certain antibodies that help them fight off disease until they are old enough to make their own and they get these from their mothers.

    Is it possible for humans to hand down immunity from certain diseases as part of their genetic make-up? For example if a mother has "Virus A" and becomes immune to it afterwards, is it possible to pass this immunity onto her offspring? Meaning that child will never contract "Virus A".

    If humans can build up resistance to certain drugs and environmental factors, is it possible for the same thing to happen with diseases/viruses/bacteria etc?


    Enlighten me!


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  3. #2 Re: Immunity to disease - passing it to your offspring? 
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Yes.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Sophomore vslayer's Avatar
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    some viruses may target a specific gene, and therefore those which a different genotype would be immune; i would assume the only way for an acquired genetic immunity to be passed on would be if the genetic code mutated in reaction to the virus. i think the main reason for resistances to be passed on is that a mothers first few milkings contain colostrum which is full of antibodies that the mother has produced immunity to.
    and so the balance of power shifts...
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  5. #4  
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    Cool - Thanks vslayer, that should give me something to mull over!
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  6. #5  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Overall ability to prevent infection from, fight off, and recover from sickness is genetic and passed on from parents to child.

    However, the specific kind of immunity you are talking about cannot be passed genetically from parents to child because it is not genetic. When a specific virus enters your system for the first time, you have no antibodies against it. Only once your immune system "gets it's hands" on some pieces of that virus, can it "design" antibodies against the virus and produce them en masse. It also keeps some of these antibodies stored away in your body should that particular virus ever enter your system again. That is acquired immunity.

    There is no genetic code for that particular antibody, only genetic code for the ability to "design" and make antibodies. No where in your child's genes, then, will there be instructions for making that antibody. If you're a woman, however, the antibodies present in your body can enter your child's body during pregnancy and/or through breastfeeding. This is the only way acquired immunity can be passed to another individual.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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