Monday, July 16, 2007

Researcher: Mother’s flu could lead to mental illnesses

We have long known that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are diseases of the brain. Scientists have also documented some things that are wrong with the brain in severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia.

This week, researchers discussed new findings about the possible cause of severe mental illness:

Professor Patterson, speaking from an international neuroscience conference in Melbourne, said schizophrenia and autism resulted from a combination of environmental factors such as the mother's health and genetic predisposition. Professor Patterson, from the California Institute of Technology, said that when a pregnant woman contracted respiratory infections such as influenza during pregnancy, there was a greater risk the foetus's brain would be permanently altered, leaving it prone to the possibility of mental illness later in life.
This is just the latest in a growing body of research about the role that viruses might play in the development of severe mental illnesses.