Fever during pregnancy increases risk of autism

 
By Sheryl Kay • Published: September 14th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 80 children in America are now diagnosed with some form of autism every year.

As the incidence of this developmental disorder climbs, doctors have put extra effort in trying to determine factors that might be causing it.

The most recent research, just published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, now indicates that a simple fever may be a contributing factor.

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers set out to determine how fevers during pregnancy might be linked to developmental delay disorders. Data on more than 1,000 ethnically diverse children, ages 2 through 5, was taken from the Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and the Environment study, also known as CHARGE. Analysis showed that mothers of children with autism or developmental delay reported fever from any cause during pregnancy about twice as often as mothers of children who were developing normally. But on a more positive note, the risk of autism in the children born to moms who took fever-reducing medications during those pregnancies was no different from the risk in children whose mothers reported no fever.

The study did not identify the exact way in which fever might lead to autism. But researchers did mention that when people are infected by bacteria or viruses, the body usually responds by mounting a healing reaction that involves inflammatory proteins. Should those proteins cross the placenta, the fetal central nervous system may be affected, potentially altering brain development.

What does this mean for pregnant moms-to-be? If you are running a fever play it safe and check in with your doctor. A quick consultation could have long-lasting effects for you and your baby.