Pregnancy Infections Linked to High Risk of Autism

All pregnant women dread the idea of an infection during their pregnancy and until recently was believed that everything will be fine if the infection is discovered and treated fast. In many cases, bacterial infections trigger an immunologic response and the strength of this response depends on which trimester the infection occurs. A recent study explored the matter and concluded that the babies born from mothers carrying bacterial infections are in danger to develop autism.

Pregnancy Infections Linked to High Risk of Autism

The Study Group

The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published a study which analyzed a number of 407 children with autism.  The study also included 2,075 children with no autism whose mothers reported some kind of infection during their pregnancy.  The study group was focused on the children born between 1995 and 1999 which remained under the health plan two years after they were born.


The study monitored the types of hospital identified infections experienced by the mothers of these children.  It seems that in spite of the fact that many types of infections can occur during pregnancy, only the bacterial ones present a danger for the neural development of the child. In the case of this study group was discovered that bacterial infections occurred more often for the mothers whose children developed autism.

It seems that the chance to have a baby with autism is increased by 58% for the women with any kind of bacterial infection (urinary tract, amniotic fluid or any other genital infection). Also in case the infection occurs in the second trimester the chances are multiplied by three times.

The Cause

Further research is mandatory but during the animal testing it was discovered that bacterial infections cause a strong immune response in mothers which causes a severe disruptions in the neural development of the offspring.

Dr. OussenyZerbo, the leader of the scientists’ team stated that a bacterial infection becomes truly dangerous for the development of the child in case it is not discovered and treated. In many cases pregnant women are not diagnosed in the hospital because they are monitored in private physician’s practices which do not carry the right testing equipment.

This would not be a problem if the future mothers would report to their doctors that they are experiencing signs of bacterial infections. In such a case their physician would be able to recommend hospital testing and the danger would be avoided.


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