Another reason kids with autism might be more likely to be hospitalized for infectious or other illnesses is that their parents are worried about their child's development and are therefore more likely to seek out medical care.
More medical visits might also help prompt an autism diagnosis, Atladottir said. "It could be that medical professionals see the developmental problems in the child and refer the child further to a child psychiatrist," he explained.
Although this study found no link between autism and childhood infections, prenatal infections -- particularly during the first and second trimesters -- may up the chances children will have autism, prior research has found.
A study published online April 23 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders by the same group of researchers found a link between autism and hospitalization for maternal viral infection in the first trimester, such as flu, and bacterial infection in the second trimester.
Children whose mothers had a viral infection requiring hospitalization during the first trimester had nearly three times the risk of a later autism diagnosis, according to that study.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on autism.
SOURCES: Hjordis Osk Atladottir, M.D., department of epidemiology and biostatistics, Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark; Andrew Zimmerman, M.D., director of medical research, Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore; May 2010, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
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