Fever During Pregnancy Linked to Autism in Offspring

Use of antipyretic medication attenuates the fever-associated risk of autism spectrum disorders

TUESDAY, May 29 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal influenza during pregnancy is not associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or developmental delay (DD), but the odds of ASD and DD are increased for children whose mothers had fever during pregnancy, according to a study published online May 5 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

To investigate the association between maternal influenza or fever during pregnancy and ASD or DD, Ousseny Zerbo, Ph.D., from the University of California in Davis, and colleagues analyzed data from case groups of 538 children with ASD, 163 with DD, and 421 typically developing controls. Information on exposure was collected by telephone interview, and outcomes were clinically confirmed.

The researchers found no association between maternal influenza and ASD or DD. However, maternal fever during pregnancy correlated with both ASD and DD (odds ratios [ORs], 2.12 and 2.50, respectively). For mothers who reported taking antipyretic medication, the fever-associated ASD risk was reduced (OR, 1.30; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.59 to 2.84), but the risk remained increased for those not taking antipyretic medication (OR, 2.55).

"Our study provides strong evidence that controlling fevers while pregnant may be effective in modifying the risk of having a child with autism or developmental delay," Zerbo said in a statement.

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