Children affected with the chronic condition known as cerebral palsy are often thought to have sustained a brain injury during labor or delivery due to lack of oxygen or another complication. Studies have shown that maternal infections during pregnancy can also cause brain damage to the child, which can then result in the development of cerebral palsy.
A study by the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program found that uterine or urinary tract infections in the mother significantly amplified the threat. Cerebral palsy was nine times more likely for babies whose mothers had developed certain infections during pregnancy including, chorioamnionitis (a uterine infection), kidney or bladder infection, sepsis (infection of the blood), fever over 100.4 F, foul smelling amniotic fluid, placenta or umbilical cord inflammation.
According to a 2006 report by The Journal of Neuroscience, maternal infections have been shown to be linked to several brain disorders including autism, schizophrenia, cerebral palsy and similar intellectual disabilities. It is speculated that when a mother develops an infection and the inflammation associated with it, the cytokines (molecules that carry signals between cells) released by the immune cells cross over to the child and cause the damage. This harm is probably due to the fact that cytokines sometimes alter neuronal production.