A study by Raveen Parboosing, MBChB, MMed, MS., of Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, Durban, South Africa, and colleagues suggests that maternal influenza during pregnancy may be a risk factor for bipolar disorder in their offspring.
The study, which used a birth cohort from the Child Health and Development Study (CHDS), Kaiser Permanente and county health care databases, included 92 cases of bipolar disorder (BD) confirmed among 214 study participants and 722 control participants.
Researchers found a nearly four-fold increase in the risk of BD (odds ratio, 3.82) after exposure to maternal influenza at any time during pregnancy.
In conclusion, the findings of this study suggest that gestational infection with the influenza virus confers a nearly four-fold increased risk of BD in adult offspring. If confirmed by studies in other birth cohorts, these findings may have implications for prevention and identification of pathogenic mechanisms that lead to BD. Further work, including serologic studies for maternal influenza antibody in archived specimens from this cohort is warranted, the study concludes.
This study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Mental Health and by grants from the National Institute on Child Health and Development.
Reference: JAMA Psychiatry. Published online May 8, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.896.