08:34 GMT28 March 2020
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    A new study from Columbia University shows that women who come down with a fever during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to a child with autism.

    Researchers analyzed data on 95,754 Norwegian kids born between 1999 and 2009, and found that 583 of 15,701 children whose mothers reported having fevers during pregnancy were diagnosed with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

    According to the study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, a fever of 99 degrees Fahrenheit or more, at any time during pregnancy, means a 34-percent higher risk of autism, while fever in the second trimester increases the risk by 40 percent.

    "This study, using a large, well-characterized sample, confirms the association between fever and risk for [ASD]," said Thomas Frazier, chief science officer for Autism Speaks.

    "The research also clarifies that the relationship is strongest in the second trimester."

    But the risk jumped even higher (over 300 percent) for women who reported three or more fevers after the 12th week of pregnancy, the study said.

    Moms who took ibuprofen to counter infections did not have a higher rate of children with autism. However, the number of those women was not big enough for the researchers to draw any specific conclusions about the medication's effect.

    "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, in a statement.


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