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Fever During Pregnancy, Diabetes and Obesity May Raise Autism Risk
Date:5/12/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Having the flu during pregnancy isn't associated with a heightened risk of autism or developmental delay in children, although having a fever during pregnancy might be.

And giving birth by Cesarean section isn't associated with autism in offspring, but having diabetes or high blood pressure or being obese while pregnant seems to be.

Those are the findings of several new studies that sought to uncover what factors during pregnancy may have an impact on the risk of autism in children. The research was presented Wednesday during a press conference at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in San Diego.

About one in 110 U.S. children have an autism spectrum disorder, a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by problems with language, communication and social functioning, as well as repetitive or restrictive behaviors. Many children with autism also have other conditions, including epilepsy, anxiety disorders and gastrointestinal problems.

Recent research has found that the diagnoses of autism is on the rise, some of which might be attributable to greater awareness and increased availability of autism services, experts said. Still other research suggests the actual incidence of autism is rising as well.

"Autism is an incredibly complex disorder than now affects nearly 1 percent of children," said IMFAR President David Amaral.

The cause of autism is unknown, although some research, including the papers presented at IMFAR, hint at some maternal factors that might contribute to a child developing the disorder.

In the first study, researchers looked at data from research on 1,000 kids taking part in the population-based Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment (CHARGE) Study, which included 462 with an autism spectrum disorder, 136 with other development disorders and 265 typically developing
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