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Influenza is especially dangerous for fetuses

pte20210816023 research/development, medicine/wellness

HPI scientists have found evidence of a significantly increased susceptibility to infection in offspring

Fetus: Influenza is particularly dangerous (Photo: pixabay.com, mohamed_hassan)

Fetus: Influenza is particularly dangerous (Photo: pixabay.com, mohamed_hassan)

Hamburg (pte023/08/16/2021/11:30) – Mild influenza during pregnancy increases the offspring’s susceptibility to viruses and other bacteria, especially in early life. This is the result of researchers at the Heinrich Petti Institute (HPI) – Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology http://hpi-hamburg.de In the course of a new study using the so-called two-stroke mouse model. The results were published in the journal Nature Communications.

The mechanisms varied

According to scientists, the underlying mechanisms are diverse. Three factors in particular play an important role: influenza virus-induced immune activation in the lungs, low birth weight, and functional impairment of fetal alveolar macrophages in recognizing and eliminating infection.

Key molecules that lead to this increased risk in the offspring of mothers infected with influenza A, such as inflammatory cytokines in the mother’s lungs, are also stimulated by other respiratory viruses (including SARS-CoV-2). “There are already several independent indications from human studies that babies whose mothers contracted influenza during pregnancy have an increased risk of infection in the first months of life,” said HPI researcher Golsa Gabriel.

A “clear causal relationship” was shown.

According to the specialist, only correlation studies have been available so far. The results in the new animal model will now show for the first time that there is a “clear causal relationship between viral infection during pregnancy and increased susceptibility to infection of the offspring.” “These studies repeatedly show that pregnant women need special protection in epidemics and epidemics in order to protect themselves as well as the next generation,” Gabriel summarizes the results of the new study.

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