16 March 2010 at 15:47
PREGNANT mothers who get flu could be trebling the risk of their child contracting schizophrenia, a new study has found.
The finding has prompted calls for mothers-to-be to ensure they have their flu jabs to protect the health of their unborn child.
Researchers spotted a potential link between flu and schizophrenia during laboratory tests on monkeys.
Twelve pregnant monkeys were given flu a month before their due date. Their babies showed signs of schizophrenia in MRI scans taken when they were a year old.
The study, published online by the journal Biological Psychiatry, is the first of its kind.
'Pregnant women should get flu shots before they get sick. This was a relatively mild flu infection but it had a significant effect on the brains of the babies,' said Dr Sarah Short, of the University of Wisconsin, who led the study.
'The brain changes that we found in the monkey babies are similar to what we typically see in MRI scans of humans with schizophrenia.' She added: 'Normally, that risk affects about one of every 100 births. Studies in humans suggest that, for flu-exposed babies, the risk is two or three per 100 births.' For comparison, the study included seven pregnant monkeys which did not have flu.
Cited from The Metro 16th March 2010
For more information on the journal visit: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/505750/description#description