According to a new study children born to mothers who have had any kind of fever during pregnancy are at a slightly higher risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The body’s reaction to infection has an effect on the baby’s brain development.
The fever in pregnancy is usually causing for concern by the fear that could result in serious harm to the developing fetus. Although it does not produce malformations, the virus or infections that cause fever could affect the correct development of the baby.
A study conducted by researchers from the Norwegian School of Public Health and Columbia University, USA, found evidence that prenatal exposure to maternal fever during the second trimester of pregnancy increased the chances of developing disorders of the body.
The researchers analyzed the development of 95,754 children born between 1999 and 2009, including 583 cases of ASD identified in Norway through the birth registry of children with autism kept in that country.
The mothers of 15,701 children (16%) reported having episodes of fever at one or more four-week intervals during pregnancy.
The study authors found that neurological disorder increased by 34% when mothers admitted to having a fever at some point in their pregnancy and by 40% when it was registered in the second trimester.
The conclusion was published in the scientific journal ‘ Molecular Psychiatry ‘ and could answer some of the questions about the causes of a neurological condition that, even with numerous investigations, continues to be very unknown.
These results link to previous research suggesting that women with active genital herpes early in pregnancy may put their babies at increased risk for the development of autism.
“The fetal brain undergoes rapid changes that make it vulnerable to a robust maternal immune response,” says lead author W. Ian Lipkin, professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School. That said, mothers should not conclude that having an infection during pregnancy means that their child will develop autism, it may just be one of many risk factors.”
Now, the challenge is to find what aspect of the fever could have this effect. For the researcher, the body’s reaction to infection has an effect on the baby’s brain development.
The disorders of the autistic spectrum are entities in which early brain development is affected functionally, which has consequences in the areas of communication, social interaction, behavior (especially manifested in repetitive behaviors), restricted interests, and sensory processing.