Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 40, Issue 12, pp 1423-1430

Maternal Infection Requiring Hospitalization During Pregnancy and Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Hjördis Ó. AtladóttirAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus Email author 
  • , Poul ThorsenAffiliated with
  • , Lars ØstergaardAffiliated withDepartment of Infectious Diseases, Research Unit Q, Aarhus University Hospital
  • , Diana E. SchendelAffiliated withNational Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • , Sanne LemckeAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus
  • , Morsi AbdallahAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus
  • , Erik T. ParnerAffiliated withDepartment of Biostatistics, Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus

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Abstract

Exposure to prenatal infection has been suggested to cause deficiencies in fetal neurodevelopment. In this study we included all children born in Denmark from 1980, through 2005. Diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and maternal infection were obtained through nationwide registers. Data was analyzed using Cox proportional hazards regression. No association was found between any maternal infection and diagnosis of ASDs in the child when looking at the total period of pregnancy: adjusted hazard ratio = 1.14 (CI: 0.96–1.34). However, admission to hospital due to maternal viral infection in the first trimester and maternal bacterial infection in the second trimester were found to be associated with diagnosis of ASDs in the offspring, adjusted hazard ratio = 2.98 (CI: 1.29–7.15) and adjusted hazard ratio = 1.42 (CI: 1.08–1.87), respectively. Our results support prior hypotheses concerning early prenatal viral infection increasing the risk of ASDs.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorder Autism Infection Influenza Prenatal infection Maternal infection