The aim of this PhD project is to investigate whether exposure to fever and common infections during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of selected conditions thought to be of neurodevelopmental origin.
Prenatal exposure to fever and infections is suspected of having detrimental effects on developmental processes of the fetal brain. The brain is thought to be particularly vulnerable while the child is still within the womb, as fundamental structures are formed and because of the immense growth. Prenatal exposure to fever as well as infections has been linked to severe neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and cerebral palsy, but our knowledge of other neurodevelopmental sequelae is limited.
Main research questions
This main purpose of the project is to investigate the association between fever and a range of common infections in pregnancy and selected neurodevelopmental disorders, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), academic performance in childhood and early adolescence, and psychosis like-experiences at age 11.
This project is carried out as a population-based register and follow-up study, conducted within the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC). The cohort included more than 100 000 mother-child pairs between 1996 and 2002. Information about occurrence of fever episodes and infections during pregnancy was collected in two computer-assisted telephone interviews at approximately gestational week 12 and 30. Using the child’s civil registration number, this information is linked with data from several Danish registers (the Danish National Patient Register, the Prescription Register, and the Central Psychiatric Research Register), from the National Test Program, and from the cohort follow-up. Together, this information is used for establishing a comprehensive research database, in which statistical analyses will be conducted.
Gabi Berg-Beckhoff, SDU, IST, Unit for Health Promotion Research
Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen, University of Copenhagen, Social Medicine
1 February 2013 - 7 November 2016