A study of nearly 200 women suggests children whose mothers get the flu while pregnant are at a higher risk of developing schizophrenia.
In the study, researchers from New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University measured flu antibodies in serum samples from 64 pregnant women whose offspring later developed adult schizophrenia and from a comparison group of 125 pregnant women whose offspring did not develop schizophrenia.
They found that those who had the flu in the first half of pregnancy were three times more likely to have a child develop schizophrenia than noninfected women. But the link wasn’t observed in women who got the flu during the second half of pregnancy.
Researchers emphasize that only about 1 percent of the U.S. population has schizophrenia. And results suggest that about 97 percent of babies born to women who had the flu while pregnant will not develop schizophrenia.
But a scientist at Johns Hopkins University said the findings, when added to other evidence, makes influenza infection during pregnancy probably one of several risk factors for schizophrenia.