Study Finds Autism Risk May be Linked to Flu or Fever During Pregnancy. - Page 2
One reason why Hertz-Picciotto may have commented thus was because she co-authored a study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders in May. That study affirmed that fevers during pregnancy more than doubled the risk of autism or developmental delay in children. But the study found no corresponding increase in risk for mothers who contracted the flu during their pregnancies.
Hertz-Picciotto was quick to repeat that mothers who had week-long fevers and who did not take medication to reduce the fevers were at higher risk for birthing children who later developed autism. The good news was if the mothers who had fevers took medication to reduce it, they accumulated no risk for their child's developing an autism spectrum disorder.
The research is a step in the right direction of a very long haul toward understanding what causes autism. Coleen Boyle, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities says it clearly. "We need to have more information to get a better sense of what's going on here." In 2013 more information will be forthcoming when findings from CDC's Study to Explore Early Development (SEED), initial publication will come out.
Because flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant, the CDC and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women be especially vigilant about getting flu shots during flu season. Until more solid information is yielded by future studies and reports, recommendations for treating pregnant women suffering from fever or flu should not change as a result of the new preliminary findings, according to Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, chief of CDC's Developmental Disabilities Branch. "We don't want women to not take antibiotics or not treat fever if they have the flu," she says.
The bottom line? There is no single cause of autism, though genetic research is looking to identify markers of autism. Pediatrician Andrew Adesman, MD, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York reminds us about autism's mystery beyond genetics. "There are many different lines of research that are being pursued, and some will inevitably prove more fruitful than others."