A new study was published in journal Pediatrics on November 11, 2012 uncovers a possible link between mothers with high fever, flu, antibiotic use and children born with Autism. The study in Denmark looked at nearly 97,000 children ages 8 to 14 who were born in Denmark between 1997 and 2003, only 1 percent of whom were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The researchers interviewed the mothers during their pregnancy and after delivery about any infections and high fevers they’d experienced while pregnant, as well as whether they had used antibiotics.
Mothers who reported having the flu during their pregnancy were two times more likely to have a child with autism and those whose fever persisted for a week or more before their third trimester were three times more likely to have a child on the autism spectrum, according to the study.Mothers who reported taking one type of antibiotics called macrolides, more commonly known by names like azithromycin or erythromycin, had only a slight increase in risk.
It has been known for some time now from animal studies that a baby’s brain is affected when a female’s immune response is triggered during pregnancy, such as fighting an infection. These initial findings suggest a mother’s immune system may play some role in a baby’s development.
“Any episode of fever may be mistaken for influenza, and not all women infected with influenza virus might have been aware of this,” the researchers wrote. “The association between antibiotics and autism is a novel finding, which requires confirmation.”