A research group from U of T has shown that injection of Interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein, into the body cavity of pregnant mice resulted in an expanded forebrain neural precursor pool and perturbed olfactory neurogenesis in offspring months after the fetal exposure. These findings suggest a new explanation for the development of neurological deficits in infants.

For years, scientists have noticed that specific infectious diseases suffered during pregnancy ­— such as toxoplasmosis, rubella, and influenza — may cause severe long-lasting side effects in the fetus. Prenatal infections have been associated with neurological conditions such as epilepsy and psychological disorders like schizophrenia.

It has been shown that maternal infections may have a negative impact on infant’s brain cognitive functioning after the birth. These side effects have been attributed to various factors such as the causative microorganism, inflammatory reactions, and prescribed medications. The new research strengthens the connection between maternal health and the health of the offspring.

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