Family Matters

Pregnant Moms’ Flu Linked to Higher Risk of Autism Among Children

Expectant moms have one more reason to get a flu shot.

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Expectant moms may have one more reason to get a flu shot.

According to the latest research on flu vaccination during pregnancy, following current recommendations for influenza shots may help to lower rates of autism.

In research published in the journal Pediatrics, scientists studied the rates of developmental disorders like autism among nearly 97,000 children born in Denmark between 1997 and 2003. The children’s mothers answered questions about infections they might have had during pregnancy — colds, sinus infections and urinary tract infections, among others. They also reported whether they’d suffered from the flu or had fevers that lasted more than seven days before they gave birth.

When the researchers compared the mothers’ answers to the registry of developmental disorders, they found that moms who fought the flu while expecting had children with double the risk of being diagnosed with autism before their third birthday. Mothers who endured flu-based fevers for seven days or more had triple the likelihood of having kids with autism, and those mothers also had a 60% greater chance of having a child diagnosed with developmental difficulties falling into the more expansive category of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In addition, moms who used antibiotics while pregnant had children with a small increased risk of autism. Infections and antibiotic use can also contribute to low birth weight babies, another risk factor for developmental abnormalities; in a 2011 study, researchers concluded that premature babies who weigh less than 4.5 pounds are five times as likely to be diagnosed with an ASD.

Influenza seemed to be the only infection linked to a higher risk of autism among these mothers’ children; other common infections such as colds and sinus infections during pregnancy did not seem to increase autism among their offspring. While it’s not clear why influenza is so potentially harmful to early development, experts suspect that the fevers associated with flu might be largely responsible, since previous studies show that periods of high fever during pregnancy are associated with birth defects. So bringing down rising body temperatures while expecting is a must, they say, to avoid potentially detrimental effects on a still-growing baby.

(MORE: Autism Rises: More Children than Ever Have Autism, but Is the Increase Real?)

Still, as worrisome as the results sound — after all, avoiding the flu isn’t entirely in a mom-to-be’s control — Coleen Boyle, director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (one of whose members contributed to the study) says that the research is “exploratory.”

Adds Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, chief of the center’s developmental disabilities branch: “It’s important to note that most women experiencing flu, fever or taking antibiotics during pregnancy did not have children with autism spectrum disorders.”

The results however, emphasize the importance of protecting against influenza, particularly for pregnant women, and the researchers urge expectant moms to get vaccinated to protect both themselves and their babies. Throughout gestation and even after birth, for the first six months of life, babies depend on mom for any immunity against bacteria and viruses like influenza. So a flu shot can give an infant a head start in fending off infections from a virus that’s hard to avoid. “It’s flu season and pregnant women should get vaccinated immediately,” says Boyle. Good advice, it seems, for many reasons.

(MORE: Brain Imaging Could Detect Autism Risk in Infants as Young as 6 Months)

4 comments
MauiSparks
MauiSparks

According to  http://www.drrobertpastore.com/, the importance of nutrition cannot be overstated during pregnancy. I certainly believe in this. My friend was quite careless when she was pregnant and now her baby needs help.

willow12
willow12

How do the researchers know that what the Mums had was flu and not CMV (cytomegalovirus)?  CMV has much the same symptoms as flu and is a very common virus.  This virus has already been linked to autism.  I think that the researchers need to do some more research. 

LesleyBanks
LesleyBanks

Research keeps coming that links microbes with autism, especially as the biomedical intervention known as gcMAF (www.gcmaf.eu) as discovered by Dr Bradstreet (drbradstreet.org) which simply stimulates the persons immune system to clear viruses and pathogens has shown a success rate on over 85% in the treatment of autism.  Many children lose the label of autism as they no longer have autistic distinctions.

However, I feel it is unfair to point the finger of autism at the mother and whether she should or should not have a flu jab. Maybe mothers would be better off with a course of GcMAF themselves to keep their immune system in tip top condition so that they dont get the flu. Unlike vaccines which contain mercury and other dangerous adjuvants, gcmaf is a human protein in every healthy person, and it is this protein that commands the immune system, so taking out flu, colds, infections, viruses and cancers - in fact anything that the immune system can deal with if it is working properly. The link to vaccines and autism is still not disproven, although the pharma companies insist their vaccines are harmless. So why would anyone get a vaccine until it is proven safe for pregnant mothers and their unborn child?

See Dr Bradstreets speech here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZ5wog0oig0

DocRick
DocRick

This study does not explain the autism epidemic. As we know from the recent Nature studies, men are passing autism at 4 times the rate of women (O'Roak BJ et al 2012). That means men are driving 80% of autism being passed to children, so we need to shift away from looking at autism being caused after conception.

About 20 years ago, autism began mysteriously spiking up. Research now points to fragmentation in men's sperm cells as the major cause (Sanders SJ et al 2012). About 20 years ago, men began carrying radiation-emitting cell phones around in their front pockets, within a few inches of sperm cells. Cell phone radiation causes sperm cell DNA fragmentation (De Iuliis G 2009).

Women, have him keep his cell phone out of his pockets for 30 days before you try. www.WhyAutismHappens.com