Researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute have recently discovered a link between fevers during pregnancy and autism. According to their findings, women who spiked a fever while pregnant were much more likely to have a baby diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.
There were 191 mothers who participated in this study who reported developing fevers while pregnant. Out of that group, 76 took medication to bring their temperature down, while the other 115 did not take anything to lower the fever. And the findings were pretty stunning as far as the autism spectrum goes. The women who did not take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to lower their fever were 2 1/2 times more likely to have babies with a communication disorder, and 2 3/4 times more likely to have babies with developmental problems.
But the women who did take medication to treat their fevers? The autism link went down drastically -- as their babies were no more likely to be on the spectrum as mothers who did not have fevers while pregnant.
Researchers theorize that when a woman spikes a fever, her body has an inflammatory response to fight whatever infection she has. When that response is suppressed by taking medication, the risk of the baby having a developmental or behavioral problem goes down.
I can remember getting a pretty nasty cold when I was pregnant with my son, but luckily, I never developed a fever. But I was very hesitant to take anything to alleviate my miserable symptoms for fear of harming my baby. However, my doctor did assure me that it was safe to take Tylenol if I was experiencing aches and pains. Getting that reassurance from her really put me at ease.
I don't think this study should cause any sort of alarm if you do happen to spike a fever while pregnant. If anything, it serves as an important reminder to call your doctor in the event that it happens, and he or she can advise you of what kind of medication to take, how much, and how often, etc.
Have you experienced any fevers or health problems during your pregnancy?
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