A study published online May 5th in the Journal of Autism and Development Disorders suggests a connection between fever during pregnancy and the risk of autism spectrum disorders and developmental delays in offspring. In this analysis, 701 children with autism spectrum disorders or developmental delays and a control group of 421 children without autism spectrum disorders or developmental delays were studied. After adjusting for age and other health and socioeconomic variables, the study found that women who reported having a fever during pregnancy were more than twice as likely to as those who did not to have a child with a developmental disorder. However, among women whose fever had been treated with drugs like Tylenol or Advil, the risk was undistinguishable from that of mothers who reported no fever. Therefore, untreated fever seems to be where the risk is.
The researchers acknowledge that their data depended on self-reports that are not always accurate. More research needs to be done to determine whether a fever encountered at a specific time during pregnancy might alter the risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in eighty-eight children in the United States has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism Spectrum Disorders are almost five times as likely to occur among boys (one if fifty-four) than in girls (one in two hundred fifty-two). For more information about Autism Spectrum Disorders and how to decrease your risk during pregnancy, talk to a board certified Obstetrician in your local area.