Flu During Pregnancy Linked To Autism

    The following maternal infections were not linked to autism risk in their offspring:

    • Respiratory infections
    • Urinary tract infections
    • Genital infections
    • Colds
    • Sinus infections

    The following infections or conditions during pregnancy were linked a higher autism risk in their baby:

    • Influenza (flu) – pregnant mothers who caught the flu had twice the risk of giving birth to a baby who eventually was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder before the age of three years
    • Fever – pregnant mothers who said they had a fever that lasted for at least one week had three times the risk of giving birth to a baby who eventually was diagnosed with a autism before the age of 3
    • Antibiotic usage – pregnant mothers who took antibiotics had a slightly higher risk of having a baby with autism

    The authors emphasized that their findings need to be backed up with a more thoroughly controlled study. Theirs had certain methodologic limitations, they added.

    Lead researcher, Hjordis Osk Atladottir, MD, PhD, said that women who catch the flu or have a fever during pregnancy should not be alarmed by these findings. Approximately 98% of those who did catch flu or had a lasting fever gave birth to children with no autism.

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