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Exposure to maternal bacterial infection during pregnancy ups psychosis risk in offspring

24 Oct 2019

Maternal bacterial infections during pregnancy appears to increase the risk for psychotic disorders in offspring, a recent study has shown. This association varies by infection severity and offspring sex.

Earlier studies suggested the association of prenatal immune challenges with an increased risk of schizophrenia and related psychoses in offspring, according to the authors.

To test their hypothesis that maternal bacterial infection during pregnancy increases offspring risk of psychotic disorders in adulthood, and that the magnitude of this association varies as a function of severity of infectious exposure and offspring sex, they analysed prospectively collected data from 15,421 pregnancies among women enrolled between 1959 and 1966 at two study sites through the Collaborative Perinatal Project.

A total of 116 offspring with confirmed psychotic disorders were included. Associations were found between maternal bacterial infection during pregnancy and psychosis risk over the subsequent 40 years. Participants were stratified by offspring sex and presence of reported parental mental illness, with adjustment for covariates.

A robust association existed between maternal bacterial infection during pregnancy and psychosis in offspring (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.8, 95 percent CI, 1.2–2.7), which varied by infection severity and offspring sex.

The effect of multisystemic bacterial infection (adjusted OR, 2.9, 1.3–5.9) was about two times that of less severe localized bacterial infection (adjusted OR, 1.6, 1.1–2.3). Males had a significantly higher risk of psychosis than females after maternal exposure to any bacterial infection during pregnancy.

“These findings call for additional investigation and, if the findings are replicated, public health and clinical efforts that focus on preventing and managing bacterial infection in pregnant women,” the authors said.

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Most Read Articles
Dr Margaret Shi, 10 Feb 2020
First-recorded diagnoses of psychiatric disorders are associated with increases in risk of subsequent self-harm that vary by diagnostic categories across gender and age groups, with the highest risk observed in patients with substance misuse or dependence, a 10-year case-control study in Hong Kong has shown. 
Tristan Manalac, 29 Jan 2020
Migraine headaches are common in Singapore and may be a potential risk factor for psychiatric problems, according to a recent Study.
Jairia Dela Cruz, 2 days ago
Mental disorders and chronic physical conditions represent a serious public health burden in Singapore, with chronic pain, major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, cardiovascular disease and generalized anxiety disorder being the top five contributors to increased number of years lived with disability in the general population, according to a recent study.