Paediatric treatment of infants could be improved by the findings of a recent study which has unravelled the process that causes meningitis and sepsis to prove so deadly.
Scientists found that bacterial pathogen Group B Streptococcus (GBS), which is responsible for the life-threatening infections, has the ability to suppress a baby's immune cells in order to further its own survival.
The findings are being used to develop treatments for the infections that strike 3,500 newborn babies every year.
Dr Victor Nizet, UC San Diego professor of paediatrics and pharmacy, commented: "We have discovered that the bacteria have evolved to use a trick we call 'molecular mimicry'.
"Like a wolf in sheep's clothing, GBS can enter our body without activating the immune cells that are normally programmed to kill foreign invaders."
Sepsis causes inflammation of the body alongside infection and is related to septicemia.
It can lead to organ failure, low blood pressure and a lack of normal blood flow to vital organs, eventually resulting in death if untreated