Study: Pregnant Women with Flu Have Greater Chance for Autistic Child

| by Michael Allen

A new study, by researchers from the University of Aarhus in Denmark and the Centers for Disease Control, claims that women who catch the flu while pregnant may have a higher chance of giving birth to an autistic child.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that 976 out of 96,000 children [about 1 percent] measured in Denmark, between 1997 and 2003, were diagnosed as having autism after their mothers had the flu or a fever for a week or longer, reports NBC News.

The study said: “We found almost a twofold increased risk of infantile autism in the child after self-reported infection with influenza virus during pregnancy."

Dr. Coleen Boyle, head of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, added: “Animal studies suggest that when the mother’s immune system is triggered during pregnancy, such as when she is fighting off an infection, that immune response might affect a child’s developing brain.”

Earlier this year, a Stanford University study said women who had fevers during their pregnancy were twice as likely to have a child with autism because "inflammatory processes may be interfering with brain development at critical stages,” reports AFP.