Research Article

Long term effects of exposure to viral infections in utero.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 290 doi: (Published 16 February 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;290:509
  1. P E Fine,
  2. A M Adelstein,
  3. J Snowman,
  4. J A Clarkson,
  5. S M Evans


    An analysis was conducted of the major findings of a long term follow up study of 3076 subjects who were exposed to viral infections in utero and who at the time of analysis were up to 40 years of age. Mortality and morbidity were compared with those in a control population matched for sex and date and area of birth. An excess of cancers (16 cases against seven) appeared to be clustered among those exposed to herpes viruses (varicella or cytomegalovirus). There was evidence of an increased risk of diabetes among those exposed to mumps during the first trimester (four cases among 128 subjects against none in 148 controls). The most surprising finding was a decrease of diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue and of the nervous system among subjects exposed to antenatal varicella zoster infection. The mechanism for the association may include production of fetal anti-idiotype antibodies in response to transplacentally acquired maternal autoantibodies.