Study: Fever in Pregnancy May Raise Autism Risk

A new study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders has found that women who have fevers while they are pregnant have a higher risk of having a baby with an autism spectrum disorder.  From The New York Times:

In the new analysis, researchers studied 701 children with autism spectrum disorders or developmental delays and 421 normal controls. After adjusting for age and other health and socioeconomic variables, they found that women who reported having had a fever during pregnancy were more than twice as likely as those who did not to have a child with a developmental disorder.

Among women whose fever had been treated with drugs like Tylenol or Advil, the risk was indistinguishable from that of mothers who reported no fever.

“Fever is an acute inflammatory response,” said the senior author, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, a professor of environmental epidemiology at the Mind Institute of the University of California, Davis. “So there is a suggestion that inflammation of some sort may play some role in autism causation. Untreated fever seems to be the place where the risk is.”

Image: Sick pregnant woman, via Shutterstock.

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  1. by Hope Bruns

    On September 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    This study would make srnse in out case! I have 5 kiddos anf my oldest 3 boys have some form of Autism. With them I had bad kidney infections that I ran high fevers with. a . My daughter I had kidney infections but no high fever just a low grade one. My 3rd son who had developmental delays, I had a fever here n there but not as high as with the other 2. Those 2 are more affected. Very interesting study!!!

  2. by Emily

    On September 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Just a FYI. The study mentions Advil to treat fever, unless specifically directed to by your doctor, you should not be taking ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, etc. during pregnancy.

  3. by Mrs T

    On September 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Autism, ADD/ADHD, is VERY PREVALENT = there are 7 Cumulatively Disaffectve Trigger Sets, ONE of which = pathogen (viral or bacterial) so this ‘fits’! Avoid all to avoid progression of the DYSREGULATION disease process. Things to avoid include: Dryer Sheets (formaldehyde), Perfumes (Quaternum), Dyes, Food Additives (MSG), Pesticides, Animals (Pathogens). Things TO utilize = Pro-biotics daily, Emergen-C or Vitamin or Smart Water, anti-viral/bacterial foods like: onion, garlic, cilantro.

  4. by Laura

    On September 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    In some ways, this does make sense- a lot of chemical mediators are released by the body during a fever as well as any other type of inflammatory response (autoimmune disorders, injury, and illness). However, this does not explain how the incidence of autism is rising so rapidly. Pregnant women have been fighting illnesses (having fevers) for centuries. There is another study that points to exposure to pollutants (of many forms) causing an increase in inflammation (much like a fever would cause)…. Please dear researchers, keep looking!! Don’t give up!

  5. by Lindsay

    On September 10, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    This is all extremely interesting and I really appreciate this information. While I didn’t experience fevers (that I’m aware of) during his pregnancy, our 34-weeker son (now 5 years old) was diagnosed with high-functioning Autism earlier this year. Our son was extremely jaundice for 2 months even with the at-home bili blanket. We recently discovered he has a dairy allergy. Haven’t gone gluten-free yet, but looks like the direction we’re headed. Thank you again for these findings. It all helps and it’s so appreciated.

  6. by Heather Frazier

    On September 11, 2012 at 9:04 am

    I have 5 kids. During my first pregnancy I had gastroenteritis and then had preeclampsia. He is a Feb. baby. He has had developmental delays and mild autism. My third child I had a cold I could not get over and coughed and coughed the last half of the pregnancy. I again had preeclampsia with him and he has ADHD. This baby was born in early April. I felt like pregnancy during the winter also had a greater risk beacuase of colds. Both boys have overcome most of their problems but it has been a very long and hard road that too many people today are enduring. They are now 17 and 13 with siblings 15, 12 and 5.

  7. by Linda Karpiscak

    On September 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    To Lindsey: You mentioned a dairy allergy and about going gluten free. You go gluten free for WHEAT allergies, not dairy. For that, you might consider a lactose (milk sugar) free diet. Soy and rice milks replace the cows milk.

  8. by haeley

    On September 12, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Emily- Actually ibuprofen has been moved to the safe list. It was advised against before because of its relation to another drug that caused heart defects but has been found not to cause them itself. The only thing that explains it for me is genetics. I have family on the spectrum and others I suspect are but are too old to have been recognized at the time (uncle, grandfather) We use the Feingold diet for my son with PDD (my friend uses it for my godson with Aspergers as well) with great success and we have both gotten the thumbs up for it from our developmental pediatricians and pediatric neurologists. I notice a really big difference when he gets foods on the no no list!

  9. by Tiffany

    On September 14, 2012 at 11:51 am

    the info missing in this article is what caused the fever – say if it was toxic heavy metal poisioning from the chemtrails that are being sprayed on us daily (those white stripes that look like clouds after a few minutes). If the mother got a dose of say, Mercury that resulted in a fever then the cause is that. This article doesn’t dig deep enough!!! fyi when you go to look up chemtrails, look past the wiki article!!!

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