Study links flu and week-long fevers in pregnant mothers to autism

PregnantA recent study has determined that having the flu or a fever that lasts longer than a week while pregnant can lead to a higher risk of autism in the baby, according the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In the study, "Autism After Infection, Febrile Episodes, and Antibiotic Use During Pregnancy: An Exploratory Study," researchers studied 96,736 children born in Denmark between 1997 and 2003. Mothers were asked about common infections, fevers and antibiotic use during their pregnancies and early postpartum. Children whose mothers reported influenza during pregnancy had twice the risk of being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder before age 3, and children whose mothers had a fever lasting more than a week during pregnancy had a threefold risk of autism.


Small risk of antibiotics in pregnancy

Researchers found no association between common maternal infections like respiratory infection, urinary tract infection or genital infections and a child's risk of autism.

The study also found a small increased risk for autism among children whose mothers used antibiotics during pregnancy. However, study authors say that due to method limitations of the study, the findings may be due to chance, and further research is needed.