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Hospital-Diagnosed Maternal Infections Linked to Increased Autism Risk
Date:12/23/2013

children having more than a three-fold increased risk of developing ASD.

"Infections diagnosed in an inpatient setting may represent more severe infections, and these were associated with increased risk of ASD," said Ousseny Zerbo, PhD, research fellow with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and the study's lead author.

While the mechanism for how maternal infections may influence autism risk has not been firmly established, Zerbo said animal tests have shown that immune-system responses to infections during pregnancy may influence the neurological development of the fetus.

"Our findings indicate that although most infections during pregnancy were not associated with autism in the child, there appears to be some increased risk for autism," Zerbo said. "It would be prudent for pregnant women to contact their doctor if they suspect an infection."

Kaiser Permanente can conduct transformational health research such as this study in part because it has the largest private patient-centered electronic health system in the world. The organization's electronic health record system, Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®, securely connects 9.1 million patients to 16,000 physicians in almost 600 medical offices and 38 hospitals. It also connects Kaiser Permanente's research scientists to one of the most extensive collections of longitudinal medical data available, facilitating studies and important medical discoveries that shape the future of health and care delivery for patients and the medical community.

In addition to Croen and Zerbo, co-authors of the study were Yinge Qian, MS, and Cathleen Yoshida, MA, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research;

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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