Viral illnesses linked to brain disease, suggests massive health record review

A review of 450,000 electronic health records has suggested a link between viral infections and an increased risk of brain diseases later in life. The analysis was published in Neuron on 19 January by Kristin Levine, a biomedical data scientist at the US National Institutes of Health’s Center for Alzheimer’s Related Dementias in Bethesda, Maryland, and her colleagues. They found at least 22 links viral infections including influenza and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. They reported an elevated risk of the brain diseases up to 15 years after viral exposure. However, researchers have warned that the data only demonstrate a possible connection and further studies are required to establish substantial evidence to strengthen the link.

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