Effect of schizophrenia on a child in the womb

Effect of schizophrenia on a child in the womb

Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic and disabling mental health disorder that alters the way an individual thinks, feels and behaves. Increasingly being recognized as a collection of different disorders, schizophrenia commonly affects people aged between 16 and 30 years. However, at times, the condition can affect children as well.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 1.1 percent U.S. adults have a 12-month prevalence of developing schizophrenia. Characterized by delusions, thought disorders and hallucinations, a number of factors can lead to schizophrenia. These include genetics, environment, brain chemistry and substance abuse. However, the relationship between the causes and the development of the illness itself is quite complicated and unclear.

Schizophrenia and pregnancy

Schizophrenia is believed to be a neurodevelopmental disorder, which means that it affects the growth of the brain, especially learning ability, emotion, self-control, and memory. As the condition manifests itself fully, generally when it is almost full blown, scientists are hopeful that early intervention may help people cope with its debilitating effects.

A recent research published in the Schizophrenia Research, and conducted at the University of Buffalo, has tried to find out how schizophrenia develops even when the child is in the womb. The lead author of the study, Michal K. Stachowiak, Ph.D., and professor of pathology and anatomical sciences feels that the research is the first step towards designing treatment modalities that could be administered to pregnant women, who are at high risk of bearing a child with schizophrenia.

Common gene pathway leads to schizophrenia

The study found more than 1,000 genes that were affected by a dysregulated gene program and a majority of those genes were targeted by the dysregulated nuclear Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1 (FGFR1). FGFR1 genes controlled the growth and structure of specific brain structures and also regulated the maintenance and repair of neuronal tissues.

The research suggested that there is a common, dysregulated gene pathway that leads to the development of schizophrenia. This finding by the researchers was based on the analysis of early brain pathology of schizophrenia that was done using skin cells in four adults each with and without schizophrenia. These cells were reprogrammed back into induced pluripotent stem cells and then, into neuronal progenitor cells.

“By studying induced pluripotent stem cells developed from different patients, we recreated the process that takes place during early brain development in utero, thus obtaining an unprecedented view of how this disease develops,” explained Stachowiak.

Schizophrenia can be treated

The study has not been concluded yet as the researchers want to use the strategy developed to grow mini-brains or cerebral organoids, to establish how early brain development is affected by genomic dysregulation. The team also wants to study the effects of prospective protective and remedial interventions.

Though, there is no cure for schizophrenia, its symptoms can be managed in several ways such as using antipsychotic medications, psychotherapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), support therapies, and self-management strategies.

It is always better to consult a mental health expert before opting for any treatment for schizophrenia as the most suitable treatment varies from person to person. If you or someone you know is dealing with this incapacitating mental health disorder and is looking for details about facilities offering schizophrenia treatment in California, Sovereign Health can help.

Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with one of our representatives to know about the best schizophrenia treatment centers in California offering comprehensive schizophrenia disorder treatment in California and other parts of the U.S.

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