USA Today (11/12, Healy) reports, “In a study that’s already being greeted with notes of caution, Danish researchers report that children whose mothers had the flu or ran a fever lasting more than a week during pregnancy had an increased risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder [ASD].” However, Coleen Boyle, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, stressed that “the new study, out in today’s Pediatrics, is ‘exploratory’ and does not offer a specific cause of the developmental disability.” USA Today notes, “The study analyzed data collected from 97,000 mothers of children born from 1997 through 2003.”
Drawing a different conclusion from USA Today, MedPage Today (11/12, Walsh) reports, “It remains unclear whether mothers who develop common infections during pregnancy are more likely to have” children with autism. “Overall, no associations were seen for infections and autism spectrum disorder [ASD], although a twofold increased risk was seen for the more severe subtype of infantile autism (adjusted HR 2.3, 95% CI 1 to 5.3) following maternal influenza infection,” researchers reported. “There also was a threefold increase in risk for infantile autism when mothers reported having had a febrile episode lasting for a week or more (aHR 3.2, 95% CI 1.8 to 5.6),” the study found. Also covering the story are the NBC News (11/12, Fox) “Vitals” blog, theHuffington Post (11/12, Pearson) and Reuters (11/12, Pittman).
— “Study: Flu, fever in pregnancy linked to autism risk, “Michelle Healy, USA TODAY, November 12, 2012.