I. Agartz, SwedenUniversity of Oslo Institute of Clinical Psychiatry
Moderator Of 1 Session
Key processes in human neurodevelopment take place within the biological environment of pregnancy and birth. Insults within this biological context can have long-term consequences on brain function, ranging from learning disabilities to complex psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. Birth asphyxia is the failure to start regular respiration within a minute of birth and is a neonatal emergency that may cause hypoxia (insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain and tissues) and possible brain damage or death, if left untreated. The perinatal period is associated with high risks and represents one of the first developmental milestones of brain development. During childbirth, there are cellular processes in place that increase the resistance of neurons to hypoxia and ischemic damage. These cellular processes are resilience factors that should protect against hypoxic insult. Previous reports have found alterations in genes regulated by hypoxia in schizophrenia and the lack of hypoxia related resilience factors in the presence of birth asphyxia might increase the risk for schizophrenia development. Therapeutic interventions for birth asphyxia, typically before the onset of clear neurological and behavioral symptoms, might prevent or ameliorate the development of schizophrenia later in life.