Flu In Pregnant Women Linked To Autism

A Danish study involving 96,000 children finds a new factor linked to the development of autism. Flu and fever in pregnant woman has been linked to autism in the study published this Monday in journal Pediatrics.

One in 88 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder reads a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Scientists are still having a hard time bettering the diagnosis and preventing the development of autism. A new study comes to add a new piece to an already mind-boggling puzzle. Children of women who had the flu during pregnancy are at risk of autism.

Autism is not an easy disorder to live with. It makes communication oftentimes almost impossible, whereas some conditions in the autism spectrum involve deep mental retardation, repetitive behaviors and sometime even aggressive reactions. Preventing autism in children is now the new quest in medicine.

Denmark University of Aarhus’ Dr. Hjördis Ósk Atladóttir and CDC’s Diana Schendel joined forces in a research that looked at the mother’s immune reaction during pregnancy. Their research involved 96,000 Danish children born between 1997 and 2003. 976 of the children in the study were diagnosed with disorder of the autism spectrum.

Their mothers were asked what kind of illnesses they had during the pregnancy and which drugs they used. Children of women who had influenza during the pregnancy were almost two times more likely to be diagnosed with autism later in their childhood. Based on the mothers’ answers, scientists identified a “twofold increased risk of infantile autism in the child after self-reported infection with influenza virus during pregnancy”. Having fever for more than a week tripled that risk.

Researchers emphasize that the percent of kids diagnosed with autism and linked to their moms having the flu during pregnancy is very small. “It’s important to bear in mind that when you look at the absolute numbers, we see that around 99 percent of women reporting to have had influenza or fever during pregnancy, do not have children with ASD” study co-author Dr. Atladóttir warned. “We do not want pregnant women to worry”.

Dr. Coleen Boyle with CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities told NBC News women should not panic if they get the flu while they are pregnant. “All women need to get their flu shoots regardless of whether they are pregnant. And if a woman is pregnant and experiencing flu-like symptoms, she should call her doctor right away”.

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