More Research Needed to Link Herpes During Pregnancy to Autism

Mar 23, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. ET
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A new study found that pregnant women who were infected by the herpes virus were more likely to have children with autism. But what's behind the link?

“We believe the mother’s immune response to HSV-2 (herpes simplex type 2) could be disrupting fetal central nervous system development, raising risk for autism,” said Milada Mahic, a researcher at Columbia University who led the research team, according to NBC News.

More: New study examines C-sections-autism link

While the language may be a bit confusing, the overall conclusion was that the herpes virus itself was not the cause behind any potential increase in autism risk for the fetus. Instead, it is the woman’s reaction to the HSV-2 virus that could be “disrupting the development of a fetus’ central nervous system,” the authors of the study told CNN.

According to the CDC, the overall risk of transmission from mom to fetus is relatively low, especially if HSV-2 is acquired during the first half of a pregnancy.

But for moms who may be worrying that the likelihood of autism is higher following the development of HSV-2, some experts beg to differ.

More: How I parent my autistic son and typically developing daughter differently

“Unfortunately, the analysis conducted in this study has significant flaws, and in fact, the data does not support the claims made by the authors,” said Autism Speaks vice president and head of genomic discovery Mathew Pletcher to CNN.

By Vivian Nunez

Originally published on HelloFlo.