A new study revealed that women who came down with fever during pregnancy have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with autism spectrum disorder.
The study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, showed that children born from mothers who caught a cold during their second trimester were 40 percent more likely to develop autism. Furthermore, the risk increases threefold when the mother suffered from three or more fever after the 12th week of pregnancy.
“There is something in the mother’s immune response that may increase the risk for the infant,” said Dr. Mady Hornig, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City and lead author of the study, in a report from Health Day. “But it’s not in every mother. We don’t think this is a pathway for autism. We don’t think it’s the only way autism is triggered in children.”
For the study, the researchers analyzed the data of 95,754 children born between 1999 and 2009. The Autism Birth Cohort (ABC) study identified 583 cases of autism among the participants. About 15,701, or 16 percent, of the mothers reported having a fever in one or more four-week intervals throughout their pregnancy.
The researchers observed that the risk of developing autism spectrum disorder was 34 percent higher when mothers reported having a fever at any point of their pregnancy. If the fever occurred in the second trimester, the risk of autism spectrum disorder increases to 40 percent.
After the 12th week, children born from mothers who suffered from two or three episodes of fever were 130 percent more likely to develop autism, while children born from mothers who experience three or more episodes of fever have 312 percent increased risk of autism spectrum disorder.
Interestingly, women who took ibuprofen for their fever did not give birth to a child with autism spectrum disorder. However, the researchers noted that the study’s sample size is not enough to draw clear conclusions about the drug’s effect in the baby’s development.