A Swedish study reported by MedPage Today shows that even minor infections in a pregnant woman can have quite negative effects on a child’s mental health. The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.
Infections like chorioamnionitis can directly harm a child’s brain, whether directly or through the mother’s inflammation response. The researchers wanted to know how different kinds of infections, including minor ones, might affect mental health later in life.
They pulled data from hospitals in Sweden from over 2 million people born from 1973 to 2014 who had hospitalization records and adjusted for sex and birth weight.
Then they divided those children who had a mother with an infection into groups depending on the severity of the infection and looked at four mental health problems. For bipolar disorder and psychosis, no correlation was found.
However, for autism and depression, there was a significant result. The chance for an autism diagnosis was raised over 80%. Furthermore, it did not matter if the infection was a severe one or not. UTIs also showed this increase. Depression chances by age 21 were increased by about 25%, including an increased risk of suicide.
Further study is needed since the study only involved Swedish women and inpatient hospital records. However, this study does show it’s a good idea for expecting mothers to keep up with their vaccinations and checkups to avoid infectious diseases during pregnancy.