Tue, Jun 27, 2017 | updated 12:43 AM IST

How infections during pregnancy may affect your baby

Updated: Mar 21, 2017 16:18 IST      
How infections during pregnancy may affect your baby

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 21 (ANI): A team of researchers has shed some light on how infections during pregnancy may interfere with the genes linked to prenatal brain development.

If a mother picks up an infection during pregnancy, her immune system will kick into action to clear the infection, but this self-defence mechanism may also have a small influence how her child's brain develops in the womb, in ways that are similar to how the brain develops in autism spectrum disorders. Now, researchers have shown why this may be the case.

Scientists at the University of Cyprus, University of Cambridge, University of California, San Diego, and Stanford University used rats and mice to help map the complex biological cascade caused by the mother's immune response, which may lead to important consequences.

Maternal infections during pregnancy are a known risk factor for abnormal fetal development. Most strikingly, this has been seen during the recent emergence of Zika virus, which led to babies being born with an abnormally small head and brain (known as 'microcephaly'). In the case of Zika, the virus has its impact by directly attacking fetal brain tissue. However, for most other infections, such as influenza, the infectious agent typically has a more indirect impact on fetal development.

"It's important to underscore that the increase in risk is really small - too small to be meaningfully applied to specific individuals, and is only seen in very large studies when examining many thousands of people," said lead author Dr Michael Lombardo. "Nevertheless, the biological cascade triggered by this effect is not well understood, particularly in how it may be similar to known biology behind conditions like autism. This was the motivation behind why we did the study."

To understand how activating a mother's immune system may affect her child's brain development, Dr Lombardo and colleagues examined the activity of genes in the brain after injecting pregnant rats and mice with a substance called lipopolysaccharide. This substance contains no infectious agent and thus does not make the mothers sick, but will elicit a strong immune response in the mother, characterized by an increase in levels of cytokines. These are small immune signalling molecules that can have important effects on brain cells and the connections between these cells (known as 'synapses' in the fetus's brain.

The scientists found that maternal immune activation alters the activity of multiple genes and pathways in the fetus's brain. Importantly, many of these genes are known to be important in the development of autism and to key brain developmental processes that occur before birth. They believe that these effects may help to explain why maternal immune activation carries a small increased risk for later atypical neurodevelopment.

While the effects caused by maternal immune activation are transient, the researchers argue that they may be very potent during fetal development and may cause different characteristics in the individual depending on when it occurs during pregnancy. The work underscores the importance of the idea that genes and the environment interact and that their interaction may have important roles in better understanding how risk for neurodevelopmental disorders manifests.

The study is published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. (ANI)

Untreated polyarthritis can deform joints permanently

Updated: Jun 26, 2017 13:45 IST     

New Delhi [India], June 26 (ANI): Chikungunya, the bone breaking fever, being one of the reasons for polyarthritis , may become a rampant disorder.

Full Story >>

Education, training needed to help human trafficking victims

Updated: Jun 26, 2017 12:17 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jun 26 (ANI): Knowing a little bit more about human trafficking could help save someone and so, a recent research has highlighted the need for education and training.

Full Story >>

Boozing makes ageing clock tick faster

Updated: Jun 26, 2017 10:57 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jun 26 (ANI): Next time you reach for that glass of whiskey, you may want to rethink as a recent research has revealed that the more alcohol you drink, the more your cells appear to age.

Full Story >>

Improving cancer detection with help of body noise

Updated: Jun 26, 2017 07:40 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jun 26 (ANI): According to a recent research, body's own 'seismic noise' can help improve the cancer detection.

Full Story >>

Wound healing goes up in cigarette smoke

Updated: Jun 26, 2017 07:35 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jun 26 (ANI): When it comes to wound healing, vaping may be better than cigarette smoking, according to a recent research.

Full Story >>

Paracetamol during pregnancy can put unborn boys at risk

Updated: Jun 25, 2017 14:45 IST     

New Delhi [India] June 24, (ANI): Pregnant? You may want to rethink popping those paracetamol pills as a recent study has suggested that doing so can harm the masculinity of your unborn son.

Full Story >>

Excessive texting is bad for your wrists

Updated: Jun 25, 2017 11:48 IST     

New York [US], June 25 (ANI): Texting, the thing we do most with our phones, takes a toll on our health.

Full Story >>

Ozone exposure ups autism odds in at-risk people

Updated: Jun 24, 2017 19:47 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jun 24 (ANI): Elevated exposure to ozone can put individuals with high levels of genetic variation at an even higher risk for developing autism than would be expected by adding the two risk factors together, according to a recent analysis.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], June 24 (ANI): People suffering from advanced kidney cancer, we have some good news for you.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], June 24 (ANI): In a recent study, leisure activities like going for a walk outside, reading, listening to music and other fun activities can reduce blood pressure for elderly caregivers of spouses with Alzheimer's disease.

Full Story >>

Anti-epilepsy drug to treat Alzheimer's disease?

Updated: Jun 24, 2017 10:09 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], June 24 (ANI): According to a recent study, the scientists have tested an anti-epileptic drug for its potential impact on the brain activity of patients with mild Alzheimer's disease.

Full Story >>

Take these measures to keep oral cancer at bay

Updated: Jun 23, 2017 16:04 IST     

New Delhi [India], June 23 (ANI): Oral Cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in India. Evidence suggests that India bears the largest burden of oral cancers in the world, with an incidence of around 11.28 percent in Indian men.

Full Story >>

Don't eat but sleep, to beat office blues!

Updated: Jun 23, 2017 10:59 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], June 23 (ANI): Stressful day at work leads to binge-eating at night. A new study suggests a good night's sleep can serve as a protecting factor between job stress and unhealthy eating in the evening.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], June 23 (ANI): According to a recent clinical trial, intensive blood pressure lowering benefits patients with chronic kidney disease.

Full Story >>

New Delhi, [India], June 22 (ANI): J K Organization, in collaboration with Pushpawati Singhania Hospital and Research Institute Multispecialty Hospital, organized a two-day blood donation camp in New Delhi to collect 4043 units of blood.

Full Story >>

Can your blood group predict heart attack risk?

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 13:12 IST     

New Delhi [India], June 22 (ANI): India is presently witnessing nearly two million heart attacks annually. A heart attack (clinically known as myocardial infarction) is the permanent damage or death of the heart muscles due to lack of oxygen-rich blood. According to reports, heart attack kills one person in every 33 seconds in our country.

Full Story >>

Deficits in attention linked to increased alcohol use

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 13:02 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], June 22 (ANI): Finding it hard to multi-task? Your frequency of alcohol use could be a reason.

Full Story >>

Healing garden at your place: Homoeopathy speaks

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 13:01 IST     

New Delhi [India], June 22 (ANI): One always aspires to be fit and healthy without taking any medicine. If there will be no stress, infections or any other disturbances, there will be no chance of getting ill. But the real world is exactly opposite. There is no life without challenges.

Full Story >>

Looking for stone removal procedure?

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 11:48 IST     

New Delhi [India], June 22 (ANI): Kidneys help in detoxifying and filtering impurities from the blood. They help us excrete excess toxins and excess water through urine.

Full Story >>

Lack Vitamin D? Your job could be a reason

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 09:35 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], June 22 (ANI): Stuck behind your office desk for most part of the day? Your nine-to-five job could be a major factor that puts you at high risk of Vitamin D deficiency.

Full Story >>