Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 12, pp 4015-4025

First online:

Maternal Infection During Pregnancy and Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Ousseny ZerboAffiliated withDivision of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California Email author 
  • , Yinge QianAffiliated withDivision of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California
  • , Cathleen YoshidaAffiliated withDivision of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California
  • , Judith K. GretherAffiliated with
  • , Judy Van de WaterAffiliated withDivision of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University of California, DavisThe M.I.N.D. Institute, University of California, DavisThe NIEHS Center for Children’s Environmental Health, University of California, Davis
  • , Lisa A. CroenAffiliated withDivision of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

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We conducted a nested case–control study including 407 cases and 2,075 frequency matched controls to investigate the association between maternal infections during pregnancy and risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Cases, controls, and maternal infections were ascertained from Kaiser Permanente Northern California clinical databases. No overall association between diagnoses of any maternal infection during pregnancy and ASD was observed [adjusted odds ratio (ORadj) = 1.15, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.92–1.43]. However, women with infections diagnosed during a hospital admission (ORadj = 1.48, 95 % CI 1.07–2.04), particularly bacterial infections (ORadj = 1.58, 95 % CI 1.06–2.37), were at increased risk of delivering a child with ASD. Multiple infections during pregnancy were associated with ASD (ORadj = 1.36, 95 % CI 1.05–1.78).


Maternal infection Pregnancy Autism spectrum disorder