No, getting the flu during pregnancy does not predispose to an autistic child. American researchers sweep into a new study the possible fears of future mothers who could be infected with a flu virus this winter. The disease would not be linked to a risk of having an autistic child. This belief is reported in the JAMA pediatrics after observing a panel of 196,929 women who gave birth in California between 2000 and 2010 and the health status of their children. In all, nearly 1,400 women (0.7%) received influenza during pregnancy and 45,231 (23%) were vaccinated against the infection.
Of the 196,929 children born, only 3,101, or 1.6%, were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For researchers, this does not lead to a significant link between influenza during pregnancy and autism in children. Americans also refute the idea that influenza vaccination may be associated with the risk of autism in children. Again, no cause and effect relationship was identified. This observation should not lead to any questioning of current vaccine policies, according to the researchers. In both France and the United States, flu vaccination is a source of mistrust. Last year in France only 48% of patients at risk were vaccinated against the flu (source: site santepublique.fr). To encourage the French to protect themselves against the influenza virus, pharmacists have just obtained from the government, and For an experimental period of three years, the authorization to vaccinate against the flu.
A controversial link between autism and influenza in pregnant women
Previous work carried out in 2012 by researchers at the University of Aarhus in Denmark suggested an association between influenza in pregnant women and a risk of autistic disorder in children. But the causal link had not been established. This study, conducted on 97,000 children born between 1997 and 2003, including 976 diagnosed with autism, concluded that women who had had influenza during pregnancy had doubled their risk of giving birth to a child with autism.
Each year, an average of 2.5 million people are affected by influenza in France.