Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mother's flu during pregnancy may increase baby's risk of schizophrenia

Date:
March 11, 2010
Source:
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Summary:
Rhesus monkey babies born to mothers who had the flu while pregnant had smaller brains and showed other brain changes similar to those observed in human patients with schizophrenia, a study has found.

Rhesus monkey babies born to mothers who had the flu while pregnant had smaller brains and showed other brain changes similar to those observed in human patients with schizophrenia, a study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found.

The study, published online by the journal Biological Psychiatry, is the first study done with monkeys that examines the effects of flu during pregnancy. Results from this study support findings from rodent studies suggesting this type of infection may increase the risk of schizophrenia in the offspring, said lead author Sarah J. Short, Ph.D.

Short worked on the study while earning her doctorate at Wisconsin and now is a post-doctoral fellow at UNC working with John H. Gilmore, M.D., professor of psychiatry in the UNC School of Medicine.

"This was a relatively mild flu infection, but it had a significant effect on the brains of the babies," Short said. "While these results aren't directly applicable to humans, I do think they reinforce the idea, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that pregnant women should get flu shots, before they get sick."

In the study, 12 rhesus macaques were infected with a mild influenza A virus 1 month before their baby's due date, early in the third trimester of pregnancy. For comparison, the study also included 7 pregnant monkeys who did not have the flu.

When the babies were 1 year old, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were taken of their brains. Researchers also assessed the babies' behavioral development at that time.

The babies born to flu-infected mothers showed no evidence of direct viral exposure. Their birth weight, gestation length and neuromotor, behavioral and endocrine responses were all normal.

However, the MRI scans revealed significant reductions in overall brain size in the flu-exposed babies. In addition, the scans found significant reductions of "gray matter" (the portion of brain tissue that is dark in color) especially in areas of the brain called the cingulate and parietal lobe, and significant reductions of "white matter" (brain tissue that is lighter in color) in the parietal lobe.

The cingulate is located in the middle of the brain, but spans a broad distance from front to back and relays information from both halves of the brain. This structure is important for numerous cognitive function related to emotions, learning, memory, and executive control of these processes to aid in decision-making and anticipation of rewards. In addition this structure also plays a role in regulating autonomic processes, such as blood pressure and respiratory control. The parietal lobe comprises a large section on both sides of the brain between the frontal lobes and the occipital lobes, in the back of the brain. This part of the brain integrates information from all the senses and is especially important for combining visual and spatial information.

"The brain changes that we found in the monkey babies are similar to what we typically see in MRI scans of humans with schizophrenia," said Gilmore. "This suggests that human babies whose mothers had the flu while pregnant may have a greater risk of developing schizophrenia later in life than babies whose mothers did not have the flu. Normally that risk affects about 1 of every 100 births. Studies in humans suggest that for flu-exposed babies, the risk is 2 or 3 per 100 births."

Most of the work of the study was done at the Harlow Center for Biological Psychology, which is part of Wisconsin's Department of Psychology. The center's director, Christopher Coe, Ph.D., is senior author of the study. Gilmore, a schizophrenia researcher who has led several studies that used MRI scans of newborn human brains, led the analysis of MRI data in the pregnancy and influenza study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sarah J. Short, Gabriele R. Lubach, Alexander I. Karasin, Christopher W. Olsen, Martin Styner, Rebecca C. Knickmeyer, John H. Gilmore, Christopher L. Coe. Maternal Influenza Infection During Pregnancy Impacts Postnatal Brain Development in the Rhesus Monkey. Biological Psychiatry, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.11.026

Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Mother's flu during pregnancy may increase baby's risk of schizophrenia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311123528.htm>.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. (2010, March 11). Mother's flu during pregnancy may increase baby's risk of schizophrenia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311123528.htm
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Mother's flu during pregnancy may increase baby's risk of schizophrenia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311123528.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins