Navigation Links
Study Explores Possible Tie Between Fever, Flu in Pregnancy and Autism
Date:11/12/2012

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Children of mothers who contract the flu or have a prolonged fever while pregnant may have a very slight increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, a new study suggests.

However, women who have had lasting fever or the flu during pregnancy should not be overly concerned by these results, as the risk seen was extremely small.

Mild infections were not associated with an increased risk of autism, Danish researchers found. Antibiotic use was associated only with a very low, speculative risk, according to the study published online Nov. 12 and in the December print issue of Pediatrics.

"[This] study is purely explorative and it is far too soon to suggest any clinical implications," said study lead author Dr. Hjordis Osk Atladottir, of the Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine at University of Aarhus.

"Indeed," she added, "the study shows that around 99 percent of women experiencing influenza, fever or taking antibiotics during pregnancy do not have children with autism."

Having an infection triggers the body's immune system, setting off a reaction intended to thwart the danger.

This is good when it comes to defending the body, but studies have suggested that activation of the mother's immune system may harm a fetus's neurodevelopment.

No one knows exactly why this may be the case but, Atladottir said, "previous studies suggest that the activation of the maternal immune system affects the levels of certain cytokines in the maternal blood."

Cytokines are message-carrying cells of the immune system. Some cytokines can cross the placental barrier and, here, may be "able to alter the release of neurotransmitters and thus affect fetal brain development," Atladottir said. She emphasized that this idea is purely speculative.

Another autism expert discussed the possibility that infection in pregnancy could somehow affect an infant's brain development.

Animal studies "suggest that maternal immune infection produces long-lasting changes in the brain, including those seen in individuals on the autism spectrum," said Alycia Halladay, senior director of environmental and clinical sciences at Autism Speaks. "Research suggests specific chemicals, called cytokines, may mediate this effect."

One in 88 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is an umbrella term for developmental disorders that can range from mild to severe and that often affect social and communication skills. Little is known about what causes autism or precisely why rates seem to be increasing.

For this study, researchers asked mothers of almost 100,000 children born in Denmark between 1997 and 2003 about their history of infection, influenza and antibiotic use during pregnancy.

Children of mothers who reported having the flu while pregnant were twice as likely to develop autism. Having a fever for a week or more was associated with triple the risk.

Common urinary, respiratory and genital infections were not linked with an increased risk, the investigators noted.

Antibiotic use was associated with an almost-dismissible increased risk, although the authors noted that some drugs in this class may affect the function of folic acid, which is essential for fetal neurodevelopment.

But as the authors themselves noted, the study did have a number of limitations, including the fact that the women themselves reported whether or not they had been sick during pregnancy, a potentially unreliable measure.

There's also a possibility that pure chance played a role in the findings, Atladottir said.

"We made over a hundred statistical tests," she said. "The mathematical rule is that around 5 percent of the tests are statistically significant by pure chance. Our few statistically significant findings could thus be the result of coincidence," Atladottir pointed out.

"Thus, we must say that our study is speculative and we have to study this topic further before concluding anything," she said.

U.S. expert Halladay had advice for mothers-to-be.

"Pregnant women should follow the direction of their doctor or health care provider to maintain a healthy pregnancy," Halladay said. "This includes avoiding illness and infection."

While the study found a possible association between maternal infection and autism, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

For more on autism, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Hjordis Osk Atladottir, M.D., Ph.D., Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, department of public health, University of Aarhus, Denmark; Alycia Halladay, Ph.D., senior director, environmental and clinical sciences, Autism Speaks; December 2012, Pediatrics


'/>"/>
Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Many Smokers Light Up With Kids in Car: Study
2. Early Exposure to Stress at Home Affects Girls Brains, Study Says
3. Black Patients With Kidney Cancer Fare Worse Than Whites: Study
4. Study shows how chronic inflammation can cause cancer
5. National study shows protective eyewear reduces eye, head, and facial injuries
6. Study: Rheumatoid Arthritis Plus Depression May Be Deadly
7. Cataract Patients Relax to a Soothing Beat, Study Says
8. New form of brain plasticity: Study shows how social isolation disrupts myelin production
9. Income May Influence Outcome of Knee Replacement Surgery: Study
10. Hip Surgery Increases Stroke Risk in Older Patients: Study
11. Some Kids May Overcome or Outgrow Egg Allergy, Study Suggests
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Study Explores Possible Tie Between Fever, Flu in Pregnancy and Autism
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... First Choice Emergency Room , the largest ... as the Medical Director of its new Mesquite-Samuell Farm facility. , “We are ... Mesquite location,” said Dr. James M. Muzzarelli, Executive Medical Director of First Choice Emergency ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional wisdom preaches the ... In terms of the latter, setting the bar too high can result in disappointment, ... just slow progress toward their goal. , Research from PsychTests.com reveals ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son James, ... out at his family verbally and physically. , “When something upset him, he couldn’t control ... use it. He would throw rocks at my other children and say he was going ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Comfort Keepers® ... American Cancer Society and the Road To Recovery® program to drive cancer patients to ... and other adults to ensure the highest quality of life and ongoing independence. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... The Haute ... Dr. Barry M. Weintraub as a prominent plastic surgeon and the network’s newest ... world, and the most handsome men, look naturally attractive. Plastic surgery should be ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; ... for its Elecsys BRAHMS PCT (procalcitonin) assay as a ... septic shock. With this clearance, Roche is the first ... integrated solution for sepsis risk assessment and management. ... infection and PCT levels in blood can aid clinicians ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , , , WHEN: ... , , , , LOCATION: , , , Online, with ... , EXPERT PANELISTS:  , , , Frost & Sullivan,s Global Vice ... Senior Industry Analyst, Divyaa Ravishankar and Unmesh Lal, Program Manager , ... industry is witnessing an exceptional era. Several new demand spaces, such ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... MEDIA, Pa. , June 23, 2016 ... treatments in an outpatient dialysis facility.  Treatments are usually ... to 6 hours per visit, including travel time, equipment ... on a patient, but especially grueling for patients who ... residents of a skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers for ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: