Latest News » Study links flu with increased risk of autism

Your health while pregnant can affect your baby's development.

Although proper nutrition should be a top priority for anyone, it is especially important that expectant mothers consume a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals. Nutrients play an important role in a child’s development, so balanced meals are essential during this time. In addition to eating well, Danish researchers have recently discovered another means for mothers-to-be to promote the health of their little ones: getting a flu shot.

ABC News reports that a joint effort between the CDC and Danish scientists has revealed a surprising correlation between influenza and autism. The researchers issued out surveys to the mothers of 97,000 danish children – 1 percent of whom were diagnosed with the developmental disorder – including questions about general health concerns and treatments they’d undergone while pregnant.

Upon receiving the results, the analysts discovered that women who had caught the flu at some point during the nine months of pregnancy had double the chance of giving birth to a child with autism.

These findings, according to  Dr. Susan Hyman, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics who sits on an autism subcommittee, contribute to “the increasing basic science evidence that some cases of autism may be related to immunologic factors that affect fetal brain development in susceptible children.”

While this does shed light on the connection between a mother’s overall health, nutrition and autism, it doesn’t necessarily mean that any expectant mother with a mild fever should dissolve into a panic. However, the relationship – though it isn’t cause-and-effect – is enough to encourage pregnant women to get a flu shot this winter.

Though researchers have yet to discover the cause for this complex developmental disorder, the researchers advise that expectant mothers remain mindful of this link between autism and nutrition. In addition to getting a flu shot, boosting your immune system with essential compounds like vitamin C can also reduce your risk of catching the flu while pregnant.