Scientist Says H1N1 Swine Flu Virus Could Damage Brains of Unborn Children
by Steven Ertelt
July 24, 2009
Minneapolis, MN (LifeNews.com) — A neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota medical school has published a paper saying the H1N1 swine flu virus could pose problems for unborn children. Hossein Fatemi has published a new paper saying the virus, which is causing the deaths of people across the globe, could damage the developing brains of babies before birth.
Fatemi says the virus changes the genes that allow brain growth and development in an unborn child and some of the genes the virus affects are tied to the development of mental disorders.
Prenatal viral infection led to altered gene expression in the hippocampus, including autism and schizophrenia candidate genes, he told the London Times.
Fatemi’s research was conducted on mice, so he cautions about the transfer of the results to assumptions made about humans, but he says the results should prompt caution.
He said it encourages the theme that pregnant women do all they can to avoid contracting the virus.
The study saw Fatemi’s University of Minnesota team join with researchers at Johns Hopkins University purposeful infect pregnant female mice with the H1N1 virus halfway through their pregnancies and then allowing the unborn mouse to be born.
Using magnetic resonance imaging, the scientists compared the brains of the mice whose mothers were subjected to the disease to mice born from healthy mothers. Fatemi said mice exposed to H1N1 as a fetus had a reduction in their hippocampus of up to 14 percent.
This is consistent with the observed reductions of hippocampus in subjects with schizophrenia and autism," he told the Times.
The scientists published their report in the medical journal European Neuropsychopharmacology and they listed more than one dozen genes the swine flu virus adversely affected.
Trevor Robbins, professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, talked about the study with the Times and said the new research simply reinforced existing advice.
Pregnant women should do their best to avoid all infections, especially flu," he said.
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