The Lymphatic System
What is the lymphatic system?Neck masses in children often involve the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system and functions to fight disease and infections. The lymphatic system goes through many changes throughout a child's growth and development. Before birth, a fetus relies on the mother's immune system for protection from infections. At birth, a newborn's lymphatic system begins to respond to the frequent exposure to new antigens (organisms and diseases). Lymphatic tissue grows steadily until puberty, when growth slows.
The lymphatic system includes the following:
- lymph - fluid containing lymphocyte cells.
- lymph vessels - thin tubes that carry lymph fluid throughout the body.
- lymphocytes - white blood cells that fight infection and disease.
- lymph nodes - bean-shaped organs, found in the underarm, groin, neck, chest, and abdomen, that act as filters for the lymph fluid as it circulates through the body.
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