Maternal bacterial infection during pregnancy increases risk of psychotic disorder in kids

Male offspring were significantly more likely to develop psychosis due to bacterial infection during pregnancy. Female offspring, on the other hand, showed no difference in risk with exposure. Again the male offspring was twice more prone to psychosis as compared to female offspring.

Bacterial infections during pregnancy are likely to increase the risk of psychotic disorders in offspring, according to recently published results in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The association between maternal bacterial infection during pregnancy and psychotic disorders also varies by the severity of the infections and the sex of the offspring.

Studies in the past have suggested that immunity issues before birth can elevate the risk of schizophrenia.

Researchers for the new study found that 23 per cent of the pregnant women surveyed had bacterial infections during the time, which was strongly associated with the offspring psychosis risk.

Male offspring were significantly more likely to develop psychosis due to bacterial infection during pregnancy. Female offspring, on the other hand, showed no difference in risk with exposure. Again, the male offspring was twice more prone to psychosis as compared to female offspring.

Researchers studied data pregnancies in women enrolled in Collaborative Perinatal Project between 1959 and 1966 that also included offspring who developed confirmed psychotic disorders.

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“These findings could be an important first step to motivating largescale national register-based investigation of this type of research question. Larger samples would provide opportunities to address some of the crucial components on the etiologic pathway from prenatal bacterial infection to psychosis, such as gestational timing of exposure, sex-specific transmission of psychotic illness, specific sub-types of psychosis, and finer categorisation of infectious exposure. If replicated, our findings would also call for public health and clinical efforts that focus on preventing and managing bacterial infection in pregnant women,” the study concluded.

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