One allergic reaction through pregnancy van prompts sexual-development variations in the minds of infants which can last a lifetime.
Female rats birthed by mothers subjected to an allergen while pregnant displayed more characteristically “male” actions such as mounting female rants. They had the brains and the nervous systems which resembled those in characteristic male animals.
The male offspring too displayed inclination towards female characteristics, although the variations were not as noteworthy.
“The study shows for the first time that an allergic reaction in a mother could alter the sexual development of its offspring,” Kathryn Lenz (the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of psychology at The Ohio State University) says.
Earlier studies have shown how stress, infections, and malnutrition, alters brain growth. The new study signifies the important role allergies play stated Lenz.
She compared the study’s allergic reaction to an asthma attack – it prompts a more vigorous immune reaction than the seasonal allergies but not as severe as an allergic occurrence that requires a person to seek emergency care.
Sexual development happens over a range and these changes in sexual behavior after exposure to allergy are not significantly worrying, Lenz said. However, they help researchers comprehend the interaction between allergens and brain development and highlight that early life immune activation could be a source of normal variations in female behavior.
In the study mother animals were either exposed once to an allergen or unexposed.
The research group then examined their offspring into maturity. Female offspring displayed greater heights of behavior usually attributed to males.
Moreover, they had brain changes that resembled what the scientists expected in a male rat.
Male offspring acted less alike to a typical male rat. The researchers saw little activation of microglia and lesser synapses – both pointing to a modification in the rats as a consequence of the allergen contact that made them more alike to females, said Lenz.
“Study of female sexual development has just really been neglected. Even though we know there’s a wide variety in girls’ and women’s behavior, we don’t really understand what contributes to those variations.”
It’s too early to make associations between what is observed in the rats and human development, it may be valuable to explore how drugs and other influences during pregnancy contribute to growth alterations in the offspring, told Lenz.