A new study suggests activation of a mother’s immune system during pregnancy, such as during an allergic response, may affect foetal brain development. This could influence the child’s susceptibility to psychiatric disorders in later life, such as autism, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the study found a relationship between two proteins released by a mother’s immune system during the third trimester of pregnancy and the way a certain brain network involved in the above disorders developed in the infants.
Another study published last year suggested activation of the mother’s immune system during pregnancy could influence long-term child mental health and developmental disorders, specifically autism. These studies add to growing evidence linking a significant immune response - such as one that develops during flu or food poisoning – in pregnancy to negative outcomes for the woman’s offspring later in life.