Study: No link between flu in pregnancy and autism

Researchers found no connection between a mother becoming infected with influenza during pregnancy and an increased risk of children being born with autism spectrum disorders, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics.

For the study, researchers examined health data on 196,929 children born in the Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente health system from 2000 to 2010. Among the study sample, 1,400 mothers were diagnosed with influenza during pregnancy and 45,231 mothers were inoculated against the flu while pregnant.

There were 3,101 children born with ASD. No link was detected between maternal influenza and ASD diagnosis. For influenza vaccination, no connection was established between vaccination in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. For flu inoculation in the first trimester, there was a slight increased risk for ASD. However, the risk increase was not statistically significant and researchers determined it was likely attributable to chance.

"There was a suggestion of increased ASD risk among children whose mothers received influenza vaccinations early in pregnancy, although the association was insignificant after statistical correction for multiple comparisons. While we do not advocate changes in vaccine policy or practice, we believe that additional studies are warranted to further evaluate any potential associations between first-trimester maternal influenza vaccination and autism," concluded the study's authors.

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