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From the article:

[…] collected blood samples from 84 expectant mothers at each pregnancy trimester. The samples were measured for levels of the cytokine interleukin-6, or IL-6, an inflammatory marker known to play a role in fetal brain development.

Four weeks following birth, brain connectivity patterns of the offspring were assessed using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, scans. At age 2, the children were also tested for working memory performance, a key skill that supports academic achievement and is frequently compromised in mental health disorders.

The data from mother and child show that differences in the levels of inflammatory markers are directly associated with differences in newborn brain communication, and later to working memory scores at age 2. Higher levels of the marker during pregnancy tended to result in less working memory capacity in the child.

“Importantly, this doesn’t mean that every exposure to inflammation will result in a negative impact to the child; however, these findings provide new avenues for research, and can help health care providers think about how, and when, inflammation might impact a child’s long-term learning development and mental health,” said Alice Graham, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine.

A notable aspect of the study, according to Graham, is the development of a model that can accurately estimate information about maternal inflammation during pregnancy based only on newborn brain functioning.

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