Maternal Infection Requiring Hospitalization During Pregnancy and Autism Spectrum Disorders

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.

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Acknowledgments

Funding was provided by the Aarhus University Research Foundation, the Aase and Ejnar Danielsens Foundation, the Augustinus Foundation, and the Familien Hede Nielsens Foundation. The funding sources did not participate in any part of the performance of the study. The authors thank the Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby for their assistance during the validation process.

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The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Correspondence to Hjördis Ó. Atladóttir.

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Atladóttir, H.Ó., Thorsen, P., Østergaard, L. et al. Maternal Infection Requiring Hospitalization During Pregnancy and Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 40, 1423–1430 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-010-1006-y

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Autism
  • Infection
  • Influenza
  • Prenatal infection
  • Maternal infection