Children might have a higher risk of autism if their mothers had influenza or a fever lasting more than a week during pregnancy, according to a Danish study.
The researchers studied a population-based cohort of 96,736 children born in Denmark between 1997 and 2003. Mothers were asked about common infections, fevers and antibiotic use during their pregnancies and early postpartum.
The researchers found no association between common maternal infections — such as respiratory infection, urinary tract infection or genital infections — and a childs risk of autism. But children whose mothers reported influenza during pregnancy had twice the risk of being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder before age 3, and children whose mothers had a fever lasting more than a week during pregnancy had triple the risk of autism. The researchers also found a small increased risk for autism among children whose mothers used antibiotics during pregnancy.
However, the authors said further research is needed to confirm the findings, which may be due to chance because of methodological limitations.
The study is scheduled for publication in the December issue of Pediatrics. The study abstract is available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/11/06/peds.2012-1107.