Two things that increase risk of autism and depression
By Susan Scutti
| March 6, 2019
CNN – Children born to women who had a severe infection during pregnancy, such as sepsis, flu or pneumonia, show an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder and depression, new research finds.
Yet those exposed to even a relatively minor urinary tract infection in utero also experienced an increased risk of such disorders.
Women should “make sure you have your influenza vaccination in pregnancy,” said Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf, co-author of the study and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.
Illness during pregnancy: “very dangerous for your baby”
Although the flu shot is safe for pregnant women, coming down with the illness during pregnancy “can be very dangerous for your baby’s mental health and brain development,” she said.
Adams Waldorf and her colleagues analyzed patient data from Sweden’s national health registry, specifically looking at information “for the entire population of pregnant women that were hospitalized between 1973 and 2014,” she said. “And then we had up to 41 years of follow-up on those children that stayed in Sweden.”
In total, they looked at the records of 1,791,520 children and, using hospitalization codes, identified those who’d been exposed to their mother’s infection in utero.
The study was published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The results, Adams Waldorf said, were “very surprising.” ICYMI: MMR Vaccine Does NOT Cause Autism, Another Study Confirms
Children born to mothers with an infection during pregnancy had a 79% increased risk of an autism diagnosis and a 24% increased risk of a depression diagnosis as adults, the researchers found.
They also saw “an increased risk of suicide in those children that had been exposed to infections in utero,” Adams Waldorf said, adding that this association made the depression findings “much stronger.”
The increased risk level for autism and depression was detected regardless of whether fetal exposure was to a severe infection — such as sepsis, flu, pneumonia, meningitis or encephalitis — or a urinary tract infection. Read more.