A new study at Adelaide's Women's & Children's Hospital and the University of Adelaide, Australia has found that herpes virus may be linked to high blood pressure during pregnancy and pre-term birth.
The study conducted over a 10-year period, collected the blood samples from 1326 newborn babies and discovered the presence of viral nucleic acid. More than 400 of these babies were diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
"This is an exciting finding and further studies are now required to look at the link between viral exposure in pregnancy and genetic susceptibility to adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as high blood pressure, premature delivery and cerebral palsy," said Professor Alastair MacLennan, lead research researcher.
Pregnancy hypertension or high blood pressure is a leading cause of death among Third world countries and if untreated, can lead to uncontrolled epileptic fits of eclampsia with loss of baby.
"We are just beginning to understand the interaction and importance of exposure to viruses and genetic susceptibility to infection both in pregnancy and the newborn," said Associate Professor Paul Goldwater, the virologist of the team.
The findings are published in the British Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.