Humans have long understood that a pregnant mother’s health can have a dramatic impact on the health of her offspring later in life. What we haven’t understood is exactly how or why these things happen. Two recent studies have shown a link between mothers and mental health problems in their offspring. Children of mothers who contracted the flu were found to be more likely to later develop bi-polar disorder. Another study found that people who are born during winter months are more likely to develop schizophrenia. Scientists attributed that to a possible vitamin D deficiency in the mother.
Bipolar disorder: In a report published in the online edition of JAMA Psychiatry found that the children of women who contracted the flu during pregnancy were FOUR TIMES more likely to develop Bi-Polar Disorder than the general population. The scientists are still not exactly sure why. One of the authors of the study, Dr. Alan Brown said “The best guess is it’s an inflammatory response. It could also be a result of fever.”
Schizophrenia: A study conducted by the University of Swansea in the United Kingdom found that babies that are born during winter months are subject to a 17% increased risk for schizophrenia. They are not sure why this occurs either, but the prevailing theories involve vitamin deficiencies, flu infection or other illnesses, and even seasonal availability of fruits and vegetables. Dr. Sreeram Ramagopalan said “A mother may be more likely to have the flu over the winter. Or diet. Depending on the season, certain foods — fruits, vegetables — are more or less available, and this may impact on the developing baby. And during the winter, with a lack of sunshine, mums tend to be very deficient in vitamin D.”
These are just correlations and have not been determined to be definite causes, but even if the chances are remote, these two risks should make clear why it is so important to pay attention to vitamin and nutrient intake during prenatal care. Consult your doctor to ensure you make up for any deficiencies and ask if there are additional vitamins or supplements you should be taking to improve your baby’s health.