American Journal of Immunology

Maternal Infection and Neurodevelopmental Disorders in the Offspring

Heping Zhou

DOI : 10.3844/ajisp.2012.10.17

American Journal of Immunology

Volume 8, Issue 1

Pages 10-17


Problem statement: Neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism have been attributed to both genetic and environmental factors. Whether and how maternal infection as an environmental factor contributes to the development of neurological abnormalities in the offspring remains to be clearly defined. Approach: The literature was reviewed to examine the relationship between maternal infection and neurological disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. Results: Both epidemiological and experimental animal studies had found strong support for maternal infection as a significant risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders. There was also accumulating evidence that inflammatory cytokines and glucocorticoids might be important mediators of maternal infection-induced effects on the offspring. Other factors such as oxidative stress and hypoxia might also aggravate neurodevelopmental damages. Conclusion: Studies are accumulating to support the link between maternal infection and neurodevelopmental disorders. Mechanisms underlying the link are also unfolding. Future studies examining how maternal infection contributes to the development of different neurodevelopmental disorders can help in developing effective intervention strategies.


© 2012 Heping Zhou. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.