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Fever in pregnancy linked to autism

Women who run a high temperature during gestation may double risk of having an autistic child

Spiking a fever in pregnancy may contribute to autism risk in the offspring. Researchers report that women who run a high temperature while pregnant — and don’t treat it — appear twice as likely to have a child with autism as women who don’t report any untreated fevers.

Other studies have suggested a link between infectious diseases during gestation and a heightened risk of having a child with an autism spectrum disorder. But the new study didn’t find a specific connection between influenza and the behavioral disorders, the researchers report in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

“I think this is the largest and most careful study that’s been done on the topic of fever and influenza in autism development,” says Paul Patterson, a developmental neurobiologist at Caltech, who wasn’t part of this study.

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