Flu in Pregnancy May Quadruple Child's Risk for Bipolar Disorder

Source: NIH News


A study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reveals that pregnant women’s exposure to the flu is linked to a nearly fourfold increased risk of their child developing bipolar disorder in adulthood. “Prospective mothers should take common sense preventive measures, such as getting flu shots prior to and in the early stages of pregnancy and avoiding contact with people who are symptomatic,” says Alan Brown of Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute and a grantee of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health. “In spite of public health recommendations, only a relatively small fraction of such women get immunized.” Brown and his colleagues report their findings in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The study is the first to prospectively follow families in the same health maintenance organization, using physician-based diagnoses and structured standardized psychiatric measures. Access to unique Kaiser-Permanente, county, and Child Health and Development Study databases enabled the researchers to include more cases with detailed maternal flu exposure information than in previous studies. There was evidence suggesting slightly higher risk for bipolar disorder if the flu occurred during the second or third trimesters. In addition, flu exposure was associated with an almost sixfold increase in a subtype of bipolar disorder with psychotic features.

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