Maternal immune activation and preeclampsia
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Schizophrenia and autism are debilitating illnesses thought to have developmental etiologies. Prenatal brain damage can alter brain development and cognition leading to the pathologies of both diseases. Furthermore, prenatal infections have been implicated as a risk factor for both schizophrenia and autism in large, population-based studies. Many studies have investigated the effects of prenatal infections on brain development and have established inflammatory cytokines as the most likely mediators of brain damage. While preeclampsia exposes a fetus to a similar inflammatory environment as a prenatal infection, a comprehensive review of the work connecting obstetric complications to autism and schizophrenia has not been conducted. The mechanisms explaining the induction of altered brain function after fetal neuroinflammation also requires further study in the specific context of preeclampsia, especially in regards to what factors may differentiate autism from schizophrenia in the course of disease development.