We viral infection and the development of

We discussed how it
would be important to identify potential stressors in the environment since
they are linked to abnormal neuronal development in the child.  There are, of course, difficulties in determining
what qualifies as a “stressful” event and how this definition would change from
individual to individual. Focusing on environmental stressors which originate
from microbial infection, I wanted to add to this discussion by determining if the
source of infection impacted the offspring in different ways.  That is, would a bacterial prenatal infection
result in different behavioral changes than a viral prenatal infection?  In researching this question, I came across
an article written by Cordeiro and others in 2015.  In this article, the authors first examine
the link between bacterial infection and the development of psychological disorders
such as autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia.  In examining the connection between prenatal
infection and the development of autism spectrum disorder in the offspring, the
researchers argue that evidence is sometimes conflicting, and further research
needs to be conducted in this area in order to make a definite claim.  However, the link between prenatal infection
and the development of schizophrenia is much stronger although most of the research
conducted on this association is limited by being retrospective studies.  In examining the link between viral infection
and the development of psychological disorders, the authors highlight
influenza, human immunodeficiency virus, and hepatitis.  The authors mention a study detailing how influenza
infection during pregnancy can negatively affect the cognitive abilities of the
offspring.  Furthermore, infection during
pregnancy can result in increased likelihood for the offspring developing
bipolar disorder.   Parental diagnosis of human immunodeficiency
virus and hepatitis C has been strongly associated with abnormal
neurodevelopment.  The authors continue
by describing how one theory states it could be the activation of the fetal
immune system during specific developmental time frames which could result in atypical
behavioral changes in the offspring.  During
curtain stages of development, the fetal brain could be vulnerable to environmental
factors such as increased levels of cytokines. 
Immune cells in response to pathogenic infection release cytokines.   These cytokines are involved in activating
the immune system of the individual.  However,
when maternal cytokines activate the immune response of the developing
offspring, disadvantageous results can occur. 
In both human and animal studies, increased levels of cytokines are
correlated to abnormal behaviors in the offspring.  The authors conclude by stating that more research
needs to be completed in this area in order to determine the cause and effect
in these relationships as well as possible preventive measures.

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