Public health officials have always recommended that pregnant women should avoid exposure to the influenza virus because of complications of infection, including spontaneous abortion, pre-term labor and fetal defects. And that goes for any type of flu virus, be it the seasonal type or the pandemic H1N1 swine flu. Unfortunately, very few percentage of pregnant women get vaccinated and very few OB/GYN doctors recommend the vaccine.
But recent studies may take that warning to another level if results were to prove true for humans.
Neuroscientists found that the H1N1 changes the genes that control brain growth and development in the unborn child, and some of those genes are tied to the development of the hippocampus, a component of the brain involved in long term memory and spatial navigation. Damage to the hippocampus has been linked to several mental disorders including autism, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
Published in the medical journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, Hossein Fatemi and his team purposely injected pregnant female mice with the H1N1 and studied the brains of the newborn mice. Mice who were exposed to the H1N1 virus in the womb had reduced hippocampus (by 15%). Scientists also found twelve other genes that the flu virus adversely affected.
Although the study has been done on mice, it confirms the public health recommendation that pregnant women need to be vaccinated against the H1N1 virus.
via: lifenews; Image: Newscom