Be wary of pregnancy fever — A new study suggests that women who got fevers during their pregnancy run a higher risk in having a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The study conducted at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and was published in the Molecular Psychiatry journal, studied 95,700 children born between 1999-2009 in Norway.
The study reported that 15,700 children were born to mothers who had fevers during the course of their pregnancies. From those numbers, 583 children were found to have autism.
For mothers who had fevers over 99 degrees during their pregnancy, the risk of having an autistic baby increased by 34%, USA Today reported.
“The risk was 40% when fevers occurred in the second trimester,” USA Today wrote. “Women who reported having three or more fevers after the twelfth week of pregnancy, increased autism chances for their child by more than 300%.”
“Our results suggest a role for gestational maternal infection and innate immune responses to infection in the onset of at least some cases of autism spectrum disorder,” said Mady Hornig, lead author of the study and associate professor of Epidemiology and Director of Translational Research at CII.
Although pregnancy fever is quite common, the study says more attention should be placed in fevers during the third trimester because these can disrupt certain brain developments such as effects on “neuronal migration, proliferation and myelination – such as those reported in some studies of ASD.”
Based on the results of the study, senior author W. Ian Lipkin, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and Director of CII, said more studies should be made to prevent infections in pregnant women.
“Future work should focus on identifying and preventing prenatal infections and inflammatory responses that may contribute to autism spectrum disorder,” he said.