Development of the immune system begins during the first few weeks after conception. Neural folds appear, which release cells that then form a neural crest.
The neural crest contributes to the proper formation of the thymus gland (as well as other endocrine organs), which is necessary for the full and effective development of the immune system.
Once the central nervous system (CNS) develops adequately, it begins to communicate with the immune system to cause immune responses.
Individuals with poor brain development, or with psychiatric and neurological disorders, also have poor immune responsivity, have a depressed antibody production, and impaired lymphocyte activity. Later we’ll see how all this can be triggered by stress reactions.
This sensitivity of the central nervous system is precisely why prenatal care is so important during the critical period of development.
Unless the CNS is allowed to develop and grow properly, i.e. not be exposed to toxins such as alcohol, nicotine, drugs, and other agents, the immune system will not develop properly either.
Babies are then born with underdeveloped spleens, thymuses, and lymph nodes, with a subsequent decrease in white blood cell production. Many children, whose mothers may not have even known they were pregnant until the second or third month.
and therefore, fail to initiate prenatal care, are often born much more susceptible to infections and diseases as a result.
The thymus, located just above the heart, is an important organ of the lymphatic system.
Its main role is to produce and house T-lymphocytes, white blood cells that seek out and destroy antigens, which are foreign bodies that trigger the production of antibodies.
One type of T-lymphocyte, an NK or natural killer cell, functions by attacking tumors and virus-infected cells and killing them by either breaking them apart or by causing them to destroy themselves (apoptosis or cell suicide).
The following is an illustration of our lymphatic organs and vessels.
The nervous system is the first organ system to be visually evident during embryonic development. Once it begins to form, everything else follows.
The endocrine and lymphatic organs, together with the brain and nerves, form what is called the neuro-endocrine-immune system.
And it is this system that controls the healing process and keeps us healthy and disease free.Some of brain’s structures, such as the hypothalamus, the pituitary, and the limbic system, play an especially critical role in our ability to respond to events that are happening around us and to us.
The manner in which we respond, however, is the result of “brain conditioning,” much like the conditioning we do to our muscles during exercise.
As early as day 14 of embryonic development, cells begin to form and migrate to other developing tissues to enhance the formation of other organ systems.
Following this, rapid changes occur that stimulate growth and lead to proper overall development. Here are the main stages of neural development.
Week 2 : Neural plate forms; rudimentary nervous system
begins to develop
Week 3 : Neural crest develops; spinal cord begins to form
Week 4 : Primitive tissue of brain forms; heart can be seen
Week 5 : Sensory organs begin developing
Week 6 : Major brain divisions are evident; head grows rapidly
Week 8 : All major internal organs have become established; nervous system is developed enough to allow reflex actions