Does exposure to the influenza virus while pregnant increase the risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD’s) for the child?
A study conducted with 196,929 children between 2000 and 2010, compared mothers who were exposed to the influenza virus to mothers who were not exposed to the virus during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. In the influenza group, mothers were either diagnosed with the flu or were vaccinated for the influenza virus during pregnancy. This exposed group was compared with pregnant mothers who were not exposed to the influenza virus during pregnancy.
Within the group of mothers who were exposed to influenza, 0.7 percent of the mothers (1,400) contracted influenza and 23 percent (45,231) received a vaccination for influenza.
Of the children born to both groups, 1.6 percent (3,101) were later diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This finding suggests NO significant increased risk of a child becoming diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder whether their mother (during pregnancy) was exposed to the influenza virus or not.
As with all studies, there are limitations that the author discloses to the reader so that the findings of the study are interpreted realistically and in the proper context. In this study, the authors identified several limitations. Limitations identified are: (1) they evaluated pregnancies that reached the gestational age of at least 24 weeks, (2) they did not evaluate mothers who a received influenza vaccination in the first month of pregnancy, and (3) the ASD status of the children was determined by medical records as opposed to validated standardized clinical assessments for all cases.
The study by Ousseny Zerbo, PhD. &co-authors) found, “no association between ASD risk and influenza infection during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy” and “do not advocate changes in vaccine policy or practice”.
If you would like to read the entire study, go to: “Association Between Influenza Infection and Vaccination During Pregnancy and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder” by Ousseny Zerbo, PhD; Yinge Qian, MS; Cathleen Yoshida, MA; Bruce H. Fireman, MA; Nicola P. Klein, MD, PhD; and Lisa A. Croen, PhD in JAMA Pediatrics Published on A study of more than 196,000 children found no association between a mother having an influenza infection anytime during pregnancy and an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in children, according to a new study published online by JAMA Pediatrics. Published online November 28 2016 doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.3609.