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Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE

Autism and Pregnancy Fevers

By November 14, 2012

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Sick Pregnant Woman

On the scare factory that is the vast majority of the media, you've no doubt seen how a fever in pregnancy is potentially linked to autism. Stop panicking about it, I'd probably go as far as to say, stop worrying about it, even.

Here is the piece that is left out of most of what I'm reading on the mainstream media:

"Our results do not suggest that mild infections, febrile episodes, or use of antibiotics during pregnancy are strong risk factors for ASD/infantile autism. The results may be due to multiple testing; the few positive findings are potential chance findings."

The fact is that, you should do what you can to stay healthy. Eat well, exercise, sleep the right amount for you. You should talk to your midwife or doctor about illnesses and vaccinations that may be the best options for you, including the flu vaccine in pregnancy. But guess what, sometimes people get sick and sometimes those sick people happen to be pregnant. Be ready to address your symptoms and do what you can to minimize your illness, but stop panicking.  Didn't anyone every tell you that stress is bad for you in pregnancy too?

Here's a fact, relatively speaking, the risk of autism is small. We are all really aware of autism and what it can do to a family and it's a hard life. That doesn't make it more likely to happen to you. So know that you do what you can, you talk to the professionals who know you and you move about your daily life.

What else are you worried about?


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Autism After Infection, Febrile Episodes, and Antibiotic Use During Pregnancy: An Exploratory Study. Hjördis Ósk Atladóttir, Tine Brink Henriksen, Diana E. Schendel, and Erik T. Parner. Pediatrics peds.2012-1107; published ahead of print November 12, 2012, doi:10.1542/peds.2012-1107

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November 15, 2012 at 11:57 pm
(1) mom says:

I follow any study’s finding. As a pregnant woman, I already feel terrible I had a fever (not high) in early pregnancy.

Of course I’ll buy that this could raise the autism risk. My choices determine whether my child gets autism. Just because it’s so complicated of a disease means we can’t always trace those choices, and some indeed might be genetic, but those are simply the poor choices of my ancestors who came before me. Mothers (and fathers to some extent) are to blame. Nothing is simply random. It’s not pretty to think about. If my child has a disease or special need, it’s because of what I did. The more research comes out about how the womb affects babies even into old age, the more we see this is true.

I would never take a chance and ignore a study. If fevers are bad, then I’m doing everything now not to get one (and treat it if I get it).

November 16, 2012 at 10:21 am
(2) pregnancy says:

I completely agree that you should do whatever you can, but my point is that this study doesn’t say what the majority of the media is saying, so read the study itself so that you can make your own choices. There is a difference between reading that study than reading what XYZ TV show says about it.

Fevers aren’t fun and can’t always be prevented. But if you do get a fever there are ways to treat it in pregnancy – that was my point!

I hope you have a more relaxing and non-stressed pregnancy.

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