Medical studies are getting more worrisome in that it turns out some pretty common diseases can have long term effects if you contract them at the wrong time – especially when pregnant women contract them at the wrong time.
There are already studies showing an association between flu during pregnancy and autism and schizophrenia, and now there’s a new one showing that women who come down with the flu while pregnant could have a grater risk of having a child who grows up to develop bipolar disorder, which most often appears in the late teens or early twenties.
It’s not that common, fortunately. The typical risk of being bipolar is 1 percent, so if this study is accurate, the flu only raises the risk to 4 percent. And the other thing to keep in mind is that the data for this study is about 50 or so years old.
Participants were mothers who gave birth between 1959 and 1966 and their offspring.
And as pronounced as the effects were, the researchers can’t pinpoint what biological mechanism might associate the flu with bipolar disorder.
It could be the fever, it could be something else, and there’s no need to obsess about it, as always, there’s more research needed – but the link was strong enough for one of the authors of the study to recommend that pregnant women stay away from anyone who has the flu.
So, for that young mother in your life, along with the flowers, the dipped strawberries, the tower of treats, you might want to sneak in a little certificate for a flu shot.