Association of Maternal Immune Activation during Pregnancy and Neurologic Outcomes in Offspring

J Pediatr. 2021 Nov:238:87-93.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2021.04.069. Epub 2021 May 7.


Objective: To evaluate neurologic morbidity among offspring during their first year of life in association with prenatal maternal immune activation (MIA), using an inclusive definition.

Study design: This retrospective cohort study included singletons born in California between 2011 and 2017. MIA was defined by International Classification of Diseases diagnosis of infection, autoimmune disorder, allergy, asthma, atherosclerosis, or malignancy during pregnancy. Neurologic morbidity in infants was defined by International Classification of Diseases diagnosis of intraventricular hemorrhage, periventricular leukomalacia, seizures, abnormal neurologic examination, or abnormal neurologic imaging. Outcomes of delayed developmental milestones during the first year of life were also explored. Risk of neurologic morbidity in offspring was approximated for women with and without MIA using log link binary regression.

Results: Demographic characteristics among 3 004 166 mother-infant dyads with or without MIA were similar in both groups. Rate of preterm delivery in mothers with MIA (9.4%) was significantly higher than those without MIA (5.6%). Infants of mothers with MIA were more likely to experience neurologic morbidities across all gestational ages. Adjusted relative risk (95% CI) in the exposed infants was 2.0 (1.9-2.1) for abnormal neurologic examination; 1.6 (1.5-1.7) for seizures, and 1.6 (1.4-1.8) for periventricular leukomalacia.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that MIA during pregnancy may be associated with considerably higher risk of neurologic morbidity in offspring.

Keywords: autoimmunity; maternal infection; neonatal brain.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases*
  • Inflammation
  • Leukomalacia, Periventricular*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies