Allergy Exposure During Pregnancy Changes the Brain Make-Up of Offspring

Discovery could help explain links between maternal allergies and ADHD, autism

“This is evidence that prenatal exposure to allergens alters brain development and function and that could be an underappreciated factor in the development of neurodevelopmental disorders,”

said Kathryn Lenz, an Ohio State assistant professor of psychology.

A new study in rats could begin to explain why allergies during pregnancy are linked to higher risks for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism in children.

Researchers at The Ohio State University found significant changes in the brain makeup of fetuses and newborn rats exposed to allergens during pregnancy.

“We’re really interested in figuring out unknown factors in psychological disorders and in differences between male and female brain development as it relates to autism, ADHD and other disorders,”

Lenz said.

Animals that lived to adulthood after allergen exposure before birth showed signs of hyperactivity and antisocial behavior and decreased anxiety.

Though there are established links between allergies and ADHD and autism – as well as between inflammation and risk of autism, schizophrenia and ADHD – the cellular-level changes that could contribute to those connections largely remain a mystery.

Read Allergies during pregnancy contribute to changes in the brains of rat offspring, The Ohio State University, November 16, 2016.

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