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Flu During Pregnancy May Cause Autism

Pregnancy is one of the times in any woman’s life where taking care of her body becomes priority. However, many moms still can’t avoid seasonal conditions like the common cold or the flu. These conditions are being looked at as a possible cause for the rising levels of autism in children. A new study out of Denmark looked at almost 100,000 child patients over the period of 1997-2003, 1% of which had been diagnosed with a form of autism. The study’s researchers conducted interviews with the expectant mothers prior to the birth of their children and around 6 months after delivery. The interviews focused on any high fevers or infections they may have had. Additionally, the researchers also looked into the use of antibiotics during the pregnancy. The study’s findings yielded interesting results. While the study didn’t explicitly focus on cases of the flu, researchers found that mother’s who reported having the flu during pregnancy were twice as likely to have a child diagnosed with autism. This risk increased three times for moms who experienced a high fever lasting longer than a week and occurring before their third trimester. It is highly recommended that all expectant mothers receive flu shots, protecting them for the season and their baby for up to 6 months after birth. While many doctors do urge their patients to get regular flu shots, even researchers are letting women know they shouldn’t be overly concerned. While the flu, fever, and some other conditions are suspect in increasing risk for autism development nearly 99% of women report having the flu, or flu-like condition during pregnancy and their children do not develop symptoms of the autism spectrum disorder. Researchers and doctors emphasize that women should not panic if they become ill during their pregnancy, but they should notify their doctor immediately. Other studies have been conducted, including one in the U.S. looking at the relationship between expectant mothers who become sick and the increased risk of autism in children. Some have shown no correlation, others have found direct correlations. A new study, to be conducted by the CDC, will look at a variety of possible causes of autism development. It is expected to be a large study and will include illness of expectant mothers. While it is not recommended to panic about becoming sick during pregnancy, the new study certainly gives expectant moms something to think about during cold and flu season. Sources: MSNBC Vitals - MedPage Today - ABC News Health -
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