Infections During Pregnancy May Affect Fetus’ Brain Development and Primes Immune System for Inflammatory Attacks

January 17, 2022

Researchers May Have Found the Missing Link Between ASD and the Gut-Brain Connection  

Through the use of mouse models, researchers from Harvard Medical School and MIT may have discovered the connection between autism and gut-brain dysfunction. The scientists behind this study found that infections during pregnancy can lead to high levels of the inflammatory signaling molecule interleukin-17a (IL-17a). This specific molecule can affect the brain development of a fetus as well as alter the maternal microbiome in a way that primes the newborn’s immune system for future inflammatory attacks. Ultimately, this study demonstrated that environmental stimuli, like prenatal exposure to maternal inflammation, could dysregulate the offspring’s immune system and render it more susceptible to inflammatory challenges later in life. This research also offered important insights into the mechanistic understanding of why patients with neurodevelopmental disorder have dysregulated immune systems. The study’s authors believe that understanding the intricate interplay between the maternal gut and the offspring’s neurodevelopment and immune system development will help doctors and researchers better manage the long-lasting effects of viral infections during pregnancy.  

Original Article 

Original Study 

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