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Fever while pregnant can increase autism risk of baby by 34%, new study shows

A recent study conducted by scientists at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health reveals that experiencing fever while being pregnant can increase the risk of having a baby with autism by 34%.

The study observed 95,754 Norwegian children that were born between 1999 and 2009, with 15,700 of them being born to mothers that experienced episodes of prenatal fever. Researches identified 583 of them to have autism spectrum disorder.

Scientists were thus able to tell that the risk of autism increased by 34% when mothers had fever of 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Centigrade) at any time during their pregnancy. Furthermore, this risk rose to 40% during the second trimester, while the women that reported at least three episodes of fever after 3 months of pregnancy had increased autism chances for their child by over 300%.


The study also saw that the children of mothers who used ibuprofen to lower their fever did not have children that suffer from autism, yet their sample size was so small, no conclusions could be draw regarding the effect of the drug.

“Future work should focus on identifying and preventing prenatal infections and inflammatory responses that may contribute to autism spectrum disorder,” said senior author W. Ian Lipkin, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity.

The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry and is more expansive than previous research regarding this topic.

Lydia Peirce