Published on in Vaccine Update for Healthcare Professionals
In 2019, researchers from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Washington School of Medicine evaluated the relationship between maternal infections during hospitalization and neuropsychiatric outcome (al-Haddad, BJ, et al. Long-term risk of neuropsychiatric disease after exposure to infection in utero. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019 Mar 6. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry2019.0029).
A total of 1,791,520 Swedish children born between 1973 and 2014 were observed for up to 41 years using linked, population-based registries. Maternal infections while hospitalized during pregnancy included 1) any maternal infection, 2) severe infections such as sepsis, meningitis, encephalitis, pneumonia, influenza, pyelonephritis, or chorioamnionitis, and 3) urinary tract infections.
The authors found that any maternal infection during pregnancy significantly increased the likelihood of diagnosis of autism or depression in their offspring. No evidence was found, however, for an increase in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder or psychosis. The authors concluded “These results emphasize the importance of avoiding infections during pregnancy, which may impart subtle fetal brain injuries contributing to development of autism and depression.”
This study provides yet another reason to receive vaccines against pertussis and influenza during pregnancy.
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