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Thursday, December 7, 2017

RESEARCH: Maternal malaria during pregnancy causes cognitive defects in the offspring.

RESEARCH: Maternal malaria during pregnancy causes cognitive defects in the offspring. Maternal malaria during pregnancy causes cognitive defects in the offspring. Over half of all pregnant women world-wide are at risk for malaria, but little is known about possible consequences for the neurodevelopment of children exposed to malaria in pregnancy. A new study reports a causal link between prenatal exposure to malaria and subsequent neurocognitive impairment in offspring in a mouse model of experimental malaria in pregnancy. The research also identifies some of the molecular mechanisms involved. RESEARCH: Maternal malaria during pregnancy causes cognitive defects in the offspring. In this study, the researchers examined neurocognitive function in mice of normal birth weight that had been exposed to--but not themselves infected with--malaria in the uterus (both low birth weight and fetal malaria might also affect neurodevelopment, and were therefore eliminated as possible complicating factors). RESEARCH: Maternal malaria during pregnancy causes cognitive defects in the offspring. The researchers found that young mice that had been exposed to malaria in pregnancy have impaired learning and memory and show depressive-like behavior that persists to adulthood. These neurocognitive impairments are associated with decreased tissue levels of major neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine) in specific regions of the brain. Pushing the technology by imaging blood vessels in the uterus, the researchers also saw changes in neurovascular development in the brain of malaria-exposed mouse fetuses.

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