Can Fever during Pregnancy lead to Autism?


Recent studies show that fever during pregnancy triggers the risk of autism in your child. A fever, especially during the second trimester, increases the risk of giving birth to an autistic child, even further. In case of repetitive fever, after 12 weeks of conceiving, the chances are more that your child’s brain will get affected. Women, who are suffering repeatedly from fever, during their pregnancies, are 40 percent more likely to give birth to a child with autism, studies show.

Is Autism Linked To Fever During Pregnancy?

Why does it happen?

A recent study conducted at the Mailman School of Public Health of the Columbia University show that any kind of infections, happening during the pregnancy, triggers the immune response of the pregnant woman. That is likely to affect the brain development of the fetus in a negative way and cause certain disorders like autism. According to Mady Hornig, director of transnational research at the school’s Center for Infection and Immunity, the fever is the thing which is more harmful than the infection itself. That means that the mother’s immune system is the culprit and not the infection itself.

autism during pregnancy

The response to the infection is more dangerous than the infection and repeated trigger of the immune system leads to a serious damage of the child’s brain. According to Thomas Frazier, chief science officer for Autism Speaks the connection between autism and the fever is seriously high in the second trimester of the mother’s pregnancy.

The researchers believe that the infection itself can cause harm to fetus but the inflammatory chemicals secreted from the mother’s immune system is more likely to affect the fetus’s brain than anything else. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the 2 percent United States kids with autism, were born from mothers who had been suffering from autism. In Norway the statistics is higher. A recent study, conducted in the year 2015, shows that the as much as 16 percent of the children born with autism had their mothers diagnosed with high fever, at least 3 or 4 times during the entire pregnancy.

Also a study conducted in the year 2013 reveals that the mothers whose fever had continued for weeks, gave birth to autistic children, more on average than the mothers who has not experienced fever at all. Even slightest of hints or common cold and flue can trigger serious immunity response for a pregnant woman.


Is there a Remedy?

Now that the association between fever and autism is established the studies also find out that the consumption of medicines like in the form of acetaminophen can lower the risk by a considerable amount. Though it is difficult to say, as of now, that whether the active effect of the medicine has any direct effect or the impact on the result but it is being observed that fewer women has given birth to an autistic child, once they are under medication.

The subject itself is very sensitive. In case your child’s brain is affected, there is no way to reverse it.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and the most effective medicines you can take, whilst suffering from fever during pregnancy. The intake of medicines normally would stop your body’s automatic inflammatory response against the bacteria. That essentially means that the medicines should be allowed to fight off the bacteria and not the body’s natural immunity. The medicines do not impact the uterus in the way the natural chemicals affect. For that reason, medication is the preferred option of treating any sort of common cold or flu.


The best precaution would be not catch the odd fever whilst you are pregnant. However, if you are feeling a bit dizzy with cold and you suspect flu, then contact your doctor on an immediate basis. Do not waste time whether it is worthy to check with the medics in a matter of a trivial fever. This fever can actually harm your child’s future.

Taking medicines on your own is again not a good advice. This is due to the fact that excessive medications can actually damage your uterus and can harm your baby in more than one way. Since it is now determined that fever during pregnancy can actually cause serious damage to your child’s brain it is important that you contact your doctor or the midwife on an immediate basis. Any spike of temperature above 39 degree C is alarming, during pregnancy and you must get it checked.

Prolonged fever is even more dangerous and for that reason try and restrict the amount of time you are feeling feverish. If your fever returns again and again, then ask your doctor to change the medicine or dosage. There is no need to panic as long as the fever does not persist for a longer time.