New insights on the role of prenatal exposure to specific infectious diseases in the onset of non-infectious chronic conditions during childhood and adolescence

Year of award: 2022


  • Dr Enny Cruz

    London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom

Project summary

In utero exposure to infectious diseases may set the stage for long-term health outcomes. There may be no evidence of the infection when the chronic condition is diagnosed. This proposal aims to investigate whether infectious diseases during pregnancy can increase the risk of the offspring developing a non-infectious chronic condition during childhood and adolescence. Specifically:

1. Do infectious diseases during pregnancy increase the offspring's risk of non-infectious chronic conditions?

2. Do infectious diseases during pregnancy affect the offspring's growth pattern?

3. Is the relationship between maternal infectious disease and non-infectious chronic outcomes mediated by conditions such as preterm birth?

Using an unparalleled longitudinal Brazilian resource derived from linked data, I will compare health outcomes and growth trajectories of children and adolescents born to mothers with and without specific infectious diseases during pregnancy using a variety of epidemiological approaches and decompose the direct and mediated effects of maternal infection on chronic disorders. The results from this study will advance our understanding of the relationship between infectious diseases during pregnancy and chronic disorders, with widespread implications enabling the targeting of critical points along the path from in utero exposure to outcomes to avoid or mitigate illness and disability over the life course.