Chronic inflammation in pregnancy linked to childhood neurodevelopmental delays
In pregnant women, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression and anxiety can increase the chances of learning delays, behavior problems and mental health issues in their children's early years. A new study reported in the journal Biological Psychiatry, published by Elsevier, strengthens evidence that chronic low-grade inflammation, common to these maternal conditions, may be partly to blame for the higher risk of childhood neurodevelopmental delays. Researchers have long suspected chronic maternal inflammation may play a role in altering neurodevelopmental trajectories, leading to adverse childhood outcomes. Earlier studies, involving animals, have implicated maternal inflammation as a mechanism causing neurodevelopmental delays in offspring.
"Our findings suggest a potential therapeutic strategy to reduce prenatal exposure to inflammation and improve childhood neurodevelopment outcomes," said first author Polina Girchenko, PhD, an epidemiologist and postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology and Logopedics at University of Helsinki, Finland.
Their research results revealed that prenatal exposure to at least one of the maternal metabolic conditions or mental health adversities was associated with a two-fold higher risk of more areas of childhood neurodevelopmental delays and was also linked to persistently high levels of antenatal inflammation. Prenatal exposure to higher levels of two maternal inflammatory biomarkers also increased a child's risk of neurodevelopmental delays. The two biomarkers combined predicted childhood neurodevelopmental delay more precisely than one alone.
Intervention trials are needed to see how women and children respond to different interventions. The study also raises new questions about more specific maternal conditions and various childhood outcomes, Dr. Girchenko concluded.
(Content Courtesy: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-02/e-cii022520.php)