Study: Flu during pregnancy linked to autism

By: Krystle Sonmore Email
By: Krystle Sonmore Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Children are more likely to develop autism when their mother had the flu or high fever during pregnancy, according to a recent study.

"I think autism, especially since we don't know for sure what it's caused by, is a big concern for women that are expecting," said Carrie Schaeffer, an expecting mother.

A large-scale Danish study looked at nearly 97,000 children born between 1997 and 2004. Their mothers were screened to see if they had any infections, used antibiotics or had long periods of fever during their pregnancies.

While the study was not meant to focus on the flu, it turned out that those that came down with influenza during pregnancy doubled their risks of having a child born with ASD.

This may seem alarming, but the risk only goes up from 1 percent to 2 percent, an increase that most doctors say should not alarm pregnant women.

Meanwhile, mothers that had a fever lasting more than a week during pregnancy tripled the chances of having a child who develops Autism - increasing from 1 percent to 3 percent.

For some, a bigger concern is the actual flu immunization.

"I just don't know a lot about them and the long-term implications of what that could mean for my health and the health of my baby," said Schaeffer.

And instead of worrying about all of the "what if's", she said to enjoy the pregnancy and push worries aside.

"I would just encourage women out there, there's a lot to worry about," she said. "Just relax, enjoy your pregnancy. You only have a couple in your lifetime and just to enjoy that time."

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