A clinical study conducted by a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, on mice, led to the revolutionary conclusion that suffering from an acute condition during pregnancy may damage the baby’s brain. The studies show significant results in male offspring and they might help researchers find a treatment for human mental illnesses like schizophrenia and autism.
Inflammation decreases the number of brain cells
The team of researchers conducted the study on the previously discovered link between the inflammation experienced by expectant mothers with a pregnancy age between 18-32 weeks, preterm birth and the significant decrease in brain cells for the baby.
To get the pregnant mice to develop an infection, the scientists injected them in the womb with a substance similar to E-Coli – LPS. A control group was injected with saline solution. The researchers pointed out in their study the difference between the hippocampus’ dimension of the offspring in the group of studied mice.
The mice who were born from LPS injected mothers had a smaller hippocampus and difficulties on keeping their balance. They were also hyperactive and had a series of behavioral issues.
At the age of adulthood the affected mice still had behavioral problems and were hyperactive, but they had overcome their movement issue. Also, the male mice had fewer brain cells, but instead had a type of immune cells which were not supposed to be found in the brain.
Male offspring prone to mental diseases
The differences between the two genders are also found in humans as the percentage of men with schizophrenia or autism is bigger than the one found in women. Researchers don’t know what is the cause of this difference, but the answer may be the key to develop efficient treatments for pregnant women. If an inflammatory process cannot be prevented in a pregnant woman, doctors could reduce its length by certain interventions and medication.
Expect the unexpected
Pregnancy is a difficult period with lots of risks for both the mother and the child. Take into consideration every single problem which you develop during pregnancy to reduce the possibility of an inflammatory process which can damage your baby’s brain for life.