According to Dolores Malaspina from NYU School of Medicine and lead author of the study, “The stresses in question are those that would be experienced in a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, a terrorist attack, or a sudden bereavement”.
Data from 88,829 people, born in Jerusalem from 1964 to 1976, were collected from the Jerusalem Perinatal Study that linked birth records to Israel’s Psychiatric Registry. The NYU authors discovered that the offspring of women who were in their second month of pregnancy during the height of the Arab-Israeli war in June of 1967 (the “Six Day War”) displayed a significantly higher incidence of schizophrenia over the following 21-33 years. The study also showed that the pattern was gender-specific, affecting females more than males.
Following the 1967 war, females who had been in their second month of fetal life during the conflict were 4.3 times more likely to develop schizophrenia than females born at other times. Males in their second month of fetal life were 1.2 times more likely to develop schizophrenia. “It’s a very striking confirmation of something that has been suspected for quite some time”, said Malaspina.
“The placenta is very sensitive to stress hormones in the mother,” explains Malaspina, “these hormones were probably amplified during the time of the war.”
The authors point out that the study, which assessed ongoing medical records, only supports, rather than proves, the hypothesis that the greatest vulnerability to schizophrenia is in the second month of pregnancy. Limitations to the study include a small sample population as well as the absence of information on the exact length of gestation, which makes it possible that developmental stages were underestimated.
Malaspina also points out that pregnant women in general should not be alarmed about handling daily stressors during pregnancy. “A developing fetus requires some exposure to maternal stress hormones as it normalizes their stress functioning,” she says. “But women experiencing anxiety or excessive stress would do well to address it before a planned pregnancy and to have good social support systems.”
Graeme Baldwin | alfa
Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
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Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
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Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
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26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
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