Neurotropic Viruses and Cerebral Palsy
LONDON (Reuters) - Exposure to certain viral infections around the time of birth is linked to cerebral palsy, Australian scientists said on Friday.
Findings by researchers at the University of Adelaide suggest that neurotropic infections, which include the herpes viruses, mumps and measles, could trigger brain damage and cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that impairs the control of movement.
"The risk of cerebral palsy is nearly doubled with exposure to the herpes B viruses," Catherine Gibson, a research fellow at the university, said in a report in The British Medical Journal.
But she added that other factors such as a susceptibility to infection or prematurity may be needed for the disorder to develop.
Gibson and her team analyzed blood samples taken within a few days of birth from 443 children with cerebral palsy and 883 other babies born between 1986 and 1999.
They found that herpes B viruses were found more frequently in children later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Neurotropic viruses can cross the placenta and infect the baby shortly before or after birth.
The researchers said the likelihood of the mother's infection crossing into the fetus depends on the virus, whether the infection is recurrent and the age of the fetus at the time of the infection.
"It is unclear how perinatal (around the time of birth) exposure to viral infection causes subsequent brain damage and cerebral palsy. If the virus is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, it is capable of setting up infection in the brain and directly damaging vulnerable neuronal tissue," Gibson added.
Of course, if viral infection pans out as a trigger for CP, one cannot help but be concerned about all those poor torters practically running out of targets.
(RedOrbit link via Pharyngula)