Flu during pregnancy endangers fetus

first_imgPASADENA – Pregnant women who contract the flu are more likely to bear a child with a serious mental illness or autism, according to a study released Tuesday by a team of Caltech biologists. Working with mice that carry the genes for a schizophrenia-like condition, researchers found that animals that became ill during their pregnancy were more likely to pass along the disorder to their babies. Moreover, the abnormality was not present in mice born to mothers whose immune response to the flu had been blocked. “The work is extremely solid and very interesting,” Dan Geschwind, a UCLA neurogeneticist, said of the work by the Caltech team. “There are some things that are very unexpected.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The Caltech researchers determined that the abnormality was caused by the presence of interleukin-6, a protein triggered during an immune response. “If you block the protein IL-6, you completely normalize the behaviors of the offspring,” Caltech biologist Paul Patterson said. “On the converse experiment, if you just inject IL-6 into the mother, that will give rise to offspring with abnormal behaviors.” Finding the link between the pregnant mouse’s immune response and her offspring’s mental health is the first step in understanding whether there could be a similar connection in humans, Geschwind said. [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4451last_img

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