Chapter 31 The body at the extremes of age
Many diseases occur throughout life, but the human body is particularly vulnerable when very young or very old. Many of the conditions affecting individuals at each end of the age spectrum are the same as those occurring throughout life but as well as increased susceptibility to these diseases, these people are at increased risk of developing diseases which are relatively or entirely specific to their age group.
Disease in the very young
Prematurity is associated with particular problems, mainly owing to immaturity of organs and body systems (Fig. 3.31.1). Immaturity leads to increased susceptibility to infection and to less tolerance of changes in local environment as homeostasis is poor.
Congenital malformations reflect imperfections in prenatal development and include