According to a recent study, certain risk factors can affect brain development during pregnancy and potentially lead to mental disorders later. Explanations.
Susceptibility to mental disorders during pregnancy
Depression, schizophrenia, dementia, autism… WHO estimatesOne in four Europeans is affected by mental disorders during his life. According to a study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, the susceptibility to mental disorders would be influenced by certain risk factors that would act on the brain during pregnancy. Further evidence that it is not just socioeconomic and environmental factors that can affect mental health.
To carry out their work, researchers from CHU Sainte-Justine and the University of Montreal (Canada), in collaboration with the ENIGMA consortium (Improving neuroimaging genetics through meta-analysis). They analyzed a compilation of image data from 27,359 people. Scientists have been interested in the surface covered by the brain’s outer layer, the cerebral cortexwhen placed on a flat surface.
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The cerebral cortex differs according to psychiatric disorders
The results of this work show that the morphology of the cerebral cortex, which is also called gray matter, differs according to psychiatric diseases such as autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or schizophrenia. In addition, scientists have discovered the point of convergence between these developmental processes and the genes associated with perinatal risk factors. These are in particular the low birth weight, hypoxia, maternal hypertension and prematurity.
If a susceptibility to mental disorders during pregnancy is confirmed, the researchers believe that avoiding them requires risk factor management. When this is not possible, these scientists recommend finding solutions to at least mitigate the impact of these risk factors the child’s first two years of life. During this time, the development of the brain continues and from the second year of life the cerebral cortex changes “hardly any more”, specifies Professor Paus.
Banner Illustration: Risk Factors May Influence Cerebral Cortex Development During Pregnancy – iStock.
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