Skip Nav
Why I Like Being an Only Child
Personal Essay
Why I'm Glad I Grew Up an Only Child
Moms Lip Sync Their Kids Playing Fortnite
Fortnite
2 Moms Trolled Their Kids by Lip-Syncing Them Playing Fortnite — and We Can't Stop LOLing
Dad's Story About Toddler Supporting Him While He Pooped
Fatherhood
Dad Had Diarrhea in Public Restroom With His 4-Year-Old — and Her Response Is Giving Us So Much Glee

Can Fevers During Pregnancy Cause Autism?

Unlike Vaccines, This Is What Actually Might Cause Autism

Researchers are closing in on what causes autism, and the latest evidence links infections during pregnancy — not vaccines, for the record — with a child's risk of developing the condition.

A new report published this week in Molecular Psychiatry determined that a pregnant woman who had fevers, particularly during her second trimester, was 40 percent more likely to have a child with autism.

"Maternal exposure to second-trimester fever was associated with increased autism spectrum disorder risk," the team wrote.

ADVERTISEMENT

Moreso, the study — which surveyed 95,000 children born in Norway after documenting all of the mothers' illnesses during pregnancy — theorized that it's less to do with the bacteria or virus potentially damaging a baby's brain as it is to do with the body's immune response. According to the study's research team, inflammatory chemicals such as cytokines could be crossing the placenta and affecting the developing fetus.

Women who took acetaminophen to lower their fevers were less likely to get an autism diagnosis, for instance.

"This study, using a large, well-characterized sample, confirms the association between fever and risk for autism spectrum disorder," said Thomas Frazier, chief science officer for Autism Speaks. "The research also clarifies that the relationship is strongest in the second trimester. Interestingly, the strength of the relationship increases substantially with three or more maternal fevers, and anti-fever medications like acetaminophen may reduce the risk of autism."

Still, researchers aren't certain that fever-reducing medicine is a solution, as so few women in the study took any and because taking Tylenol has been associated with other risks in pregnancy.

This isn't the first time that science has pointed to infections in pregnancy as a potential cause. Previous studies found that pregnant women who had the flu were twice as likely — and those who had a fever lasting a week or longer were three times as likely — to have a child with autism.

For those women who do get sick during pregnancy, the researchers see no cause for panic yet, as more than 20 percent of pregnant women in the US have fevers but only two percent of children have been diagnosed with the disorder.

Image Source: StockSnap
From Our Partners
Mom Photoshops Late Husband Into Maternity Photos
Having 5 or More Kids Might Lead to Alzheimer's Disease
6 Women Who Work at the Same Hospital Are Pregnant at Once
Photos to Take During Your Pregnancy
Can Pregnant Women Get Sick From Dogs?
Essay About Not Announcing Pregnancy on Social Media
Essay About Not Taking Maternity Photos
Gordon Hayward Gender Reveal Video
Hospital Delivery Bag Essentials
Best Stretch Mark Cream
A Pregnant Woman's Guide to Starbucks
Gift Guide For Pregnant Women
From Our Partners
Latest Moms
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds