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Mothers with influenza linked to children with autism

Category: Infectious Diseases

Recent research, which is slated to be published in the journal Pediatrics, found that pregnant women who contract influenza or suffer a fever for more than a week may be more likely to give birth to a child who develops autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The study, which was a collaborative effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and colleagues at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, looked at data acquired from 96,736 Danish children from 1997 to 2003, Medical News Today reported. The mothers of the children were also asked about what illnesses they experienced during their pregnancy.

The research revealed that respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, genital infections, colds and sinus infections were not linked to increased rates of ASD, whereas mothers who caught influenza during their maternity had twice the risk of giving birth to a baby with the disorder. Fevers that lasted more than a week were also shown to increase the risk of giving birth to a baby with ASD by nearly threefold, according to Medical News Today.

The researchers said that mothers who have a fever or contract a flu should not be worried, and that 98 percent of pregnant women who did suffer from one of these ailments, which can be detected with a lab test, did not give birth to a child with ASD, according to the news source.

Autism facts
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that autism, which becomes apparent around age 3, is tied to abnormal brain chemistry and results in skewed social and verbal skills. Other factors that may contribute to ASD include diet, alterations in the digestive tract, mercury poisoning and vaccine sensitivity.

Some side effects of ASD include having overly sensitive sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste, along with repetitive body movements and an inability to effectively cope when situations are changed.

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