New study suggests infection during pregnancy increases chance of autism

A new study says mothers who contract serious infections during pregnancy have a higher chance of having children with autism. 

Nearly 2 million Swedish children born between January 1, 1973, and December 31, 2014, were observed for up to 41 years using registries.

The findings published by JAMA Psychiatry suggested that a child's exposure to an infection in the womb while hospitalized increased the risk for autism and depression.

Separate data collected from the Swedish Death Registry also indicated increased risk of suicide among those exposed to pregnancy infection.

The study also looked at other psychopathologic conditions such as bipolar or psychosis, but found that there was no increased risk of developing these conditions during the child’s life due to maternal infection.

Researchers say the results emphasize the importance of avoiding infection during pregnancy, as it could cause subtle brain injuries that can contribute to the development of autism and depression.