Inflammation is bad, including for those in the womb

Enlarge (credit: Getty | John Greim)

It is fairly common knowledge that the uterine environment affects fetal development; if you don’t believe that, you have clearly never tried to order a coffee or have a sip of wine in public while pregnant. It's enough to elicit dirty looks and even nasty reprimands from complete strangers.

But it's not just chemicals. Historical analyses indicate that waves of neurodevelopmental disorders occur after viral and bacterial pandemics. Studies in mice suggest that it is maternal inflammation, rather than a direct infection, that elicits these disorders; when pregnant mice are given proinflammatory molecules without any infectious agent, their pups exhibit altered behaviors. But the implications for human health haven't been clear.

Now, a team has some evidence of a direct connection between inflammation in humans and changes in their offspring.

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