Key Point: Rise in fetal temperature doubles the rate of autism.

Is Maternal Influenza or Fever During Pregnancy Associated with Autism or Developmental Delays?

More results from the CHARGE (CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment) Study at UC Davis.

Ousseny Zerbo, Ana-Maria Iosif, Cheryl Walker, Sally Ozonoff, Robin L. Hansen, and Irva Hertz-Picciotto. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Online Firstâ„¢, doi:10.1007/s10803-012-1540-x, 5 May 2012

This further analysis of the data collected for the CHARGE study finds that children of mothers who reported having a fever during the pregnancy had a 2.12 times the rate of autism and 2.5 times the rate of developmental delay than mothers who had no fever or who took fever-reducing medication when ill. Having a fever-producing illness did not increase the rate if the illness was treated with medication.

CHARGE includes 1122 children aged 2 to 5 years – 538 with autism, 163 with developmental delay but not autism, and 421 typically developing children. The mothers answered standardized questionnaires about whether they had the flu and/or fever during pregnancy and if they took medications to treat their illnesses.


NOTE: An ultrasound scan in which the device intensity is too strong or the exposure is too long could cause a rise in the temperature of the fetus.