New study linking influenza to autism


CHAMPAIGN -- A new study finds pregnant moms who catch the flu could increase the risk of autism in children.

Doctors say it adds another piece to the puzzle. Autism affects one in 88 kids, but doctors haven't figured out exactly what causes it.

Researchers in Denmark followed nearly 100,000 mothers, and about one percent of them later reported having a child with autism.

The study found mothers who said they had the flu while pregnant were nearly twice as likely to have a child diagnosed with autism. Pregnant moms who were sick for more than a week were three times as likely to have an autistic child.

Dr. Charles Morton is head of Developmental Pediatrics at Carle Hospital.

"There's a lot of things that this raises questions about, but it looks like the flu shot is a really good idea," Morton said.

Shots and vaccines have previously raised questions about links to autism. But Morton told WAND moms should take preventative measures this flu season.

Morton also added that pregnant mothers should not worry if they come down with something, because most moms with the flu did not have a child with autism.

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