Prenatal exposure to viral infection and neuropsychiatric disorders in offspring: A review of the literature and recommendations for the COVID-19 pandemic

Anna Zimmer, Alix Youngblood, Adam Adnane, Brian J. Miller, David R. Goldsmith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has emerged as a striking 21st century pandemic. Communities across the globe have experienced significant infection rates and widespread psychosocial stress and trauma, leading to calls for increased allocation of resources for mental health screening and treatment. In addition to the burden of psychosocial stress, there is increasing evidence of direct viral neuroinvasion of the central nervous system through physical contact with the nasal mucosa. In a parallel fashion, there is a significant body of ongoing research related to the risk of in utero viral transmission and the resulting neurodevelopmental impact in the fetus. Aberrant neurodevelopment secondary to viral transmission has previously been related to the later development of psychosis, schizophrenia, and schizophrenia spectrum disorders, generating the hypothesis that this population of individuals exposed to SARS-CoV-2 may see an increased incidence in future decades. We discuss the current understanding of the possible neurotropism and vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and relate this to the history of viral pandemics to better understand the relationship of viral infection, aberrant immune response and neurodevelopment, and the risk for schizophrenia disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)756-770
Number of pages15
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Volume91
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Infection
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Pre-natal exposure
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Schizophrenia risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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