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No Link for Maternal Flu Infection, Increased ASD Risk

Suggestion of increased risk for children whose mothers were vaccinated in their first trimester

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 30, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Maternal influenza infection during pregnancy is not associated with increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a study published online Nov. 28 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Ousseny Zerbo, Ph.D., from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, and colleagues examined the correlation between influenza infection and vaccination during pregnancy and ASD risk in a cohort study involving 196,929 children born from Jan. 1, 2000, through Dec. 31, 2010.

The researchers found that influenza was diagnosed in 0.7 percent of mothers, and 23 percent received an influenza vaccination during pregnancy. Overall, 1.6 percent of children were diagnosed with ASD. There was no association for maternal influenza infection (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.04; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.68 to 1.58) or influenza vaccination (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.10; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.00 to 1.21) anytime during pregnancy with increased ASD risk after adjustment for confounding variables. Only first-trimester influenza vaccination correlated with increased ASD risk in trimester-specific analyses (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.20; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.04 to 1.39). If Bonferroni corrected for the multiplicity of hypotheses tested, this correlation could be due to chance (P = 0.1).

“There was no association between maternal influenza infection anytime during pregnancy and increased ASD risk,” the authors write. “These findings do not call for changes in vaccine policy or practice, but do suggest the need for additional studies on maternal influenza vaccination and autism.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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