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No Link Between Childhood Infections, Autism
Date:5/7/2010

Study of 1.4 million Danish children finds no connection

FRIDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- Infections during infancy or childhood do not seem to raise the risk of autism, new research finds.

Researchers analyzed birth records for the 1.4 million children born in Denmark between 1980 and 2002, as well as two national registries that keep track of infectious diseases. They compared those records with records of children referred to psychiatric wards and later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Of those children, almost 7,400 were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

The study found that children who were admitted to the hospital for an infectious disease, either bacterial or viral, were more likely to receive a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

However, children admitted to the hospital for non-infectious diseases were also more likely to be diagnosed with autism than kids who were never hospitalized, the study found.

And the researchers could point to no particular infection that upped the risk.

They therefore conclude that childhood infections cannot be considered a cause of autism.

"We find the same relationship between hospitalization due to many different infections and autism," noted lead study author Dr. Hjordis Osk Atladottir, of the departments of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus in Denmark. "If there were a causal relationship, it should be present for specific infections and not provide such an overall pattern of association."

The study was published in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by problems with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and restricted interests and behaviors.

The prevalence of autism seems to be rising, with an estimated 1 in 110
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