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Flu in pregnancy changes fetal brain

The brains of monkeys whose mothers had flu while pregnant resemble those of people with schizophrenia. The finding backs up studies in people that suggest flu in mothers-to-be affects the brain of the developing fetus.

Previous research had found that the children of women who caught flu while pregnant are more likely to develop schizophrenia later in life. To investigate further, Sarah Short and Chris Coe at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, infected 12 pregnant rhesus monkeys with mild flu.

Their 19 offspring seemed to develop normally. Yet MRI scans of the 1-year-old juveniles - equivalent in age to a 5 to 7-year-old human child - revealed that their brains had features similar to those seen in people with schizophrenia, including less grey matter in the cortex and enlarged ventricles. Monkeys whose mothers had not had flu did not have these features.
 
 

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