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Study: Several pregnancy risk factors, including fever, influenza and antibiotic use, may or may not contribute to autism

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  • Study: Several pregnancy risk factors, including fever, influenza and antibiotic use, may or may not contribute to autism

    Abstract of study here:
    Autism After Infection, Febrile Episodes, and Antibiotic Use During Pregnancy: An Exploratory Study; Atlad?ttir HO et al. Pediatrics. 2012; doi: 10.1542/peds. 2012-1107.
    Interview with study author:
    November 14, 2012
    Several pregnancy risk factors may contribute to autism

    HealthDay News -- Although there is some evidence to suggest that maternal influenza, prolonged febrile episodes and antibiotic use during pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)/infantile autism, further research is required to elucidate these associations, a recent study suggests...
    Reuters News Service, November 12, 2012
    ?It?s all very unsure now ? we don?t really know anything,? she said.

    In the United States, about one in 88 children is now diagnosed with autism or a related disorder.

    One limitation of the new study, the researchers noted, is that they did 106 statistical tests comparing the risk of autism or infantile autism with various infections and drugs.

    In medical research, a significant finding is typically considered one where there is less than a five per cent likelihood the result would have occurred by chance.

    But when so many calculations are done, scientists would expect that at least some would pass this test of significance, even if there is no real link between the pregnancy variables and autism.

    In addition, women?s flu reports weren?t confirmed by doctors ? and the frequency of mistaking the flu for another infection, or vice versa, is ?likely to be considerable,? the researchers noted.

    Because of those limitations, Atladottir said the findings could encourage future research, but shouldn?t be at the front of pregnant women?s minds.

    ?We don?t want to create panic,? she said.

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