The impact of maternal inflammatory conditions during pregnancy on the risk of autism: methodological challenges

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Khashan, Ali S.
O'Keeffe, Gerard W.
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In the current issue of Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science, Croen et al. (1) report the results of a case-control study that examined the association between inflammatory conditions during pregnancy and the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disorders. They proposed that maternal inflammation during pregnancy stemming from immune or metabolic dysregulation would adversely impact ASD risk, and that individual and combinations of maternal conditions may lead to different outcomes in offspring. They found that maternal asthma (odds ratio [OR] = 1.62 [95% CI, 1.15–2.29]) and obesity (OR = 1.51 [95% CI, 1.07–2.13]) are associated with a higher risk of ASD in offspring. Strikingly, the combination of asthma and extreme obesity had the greatest odds of ASD (OR = 16.9 [95% CI, 5.13–55.71]), among female children only. This suggests that while individual maternal conditions can impact a child’s risk of ASD, the combination of certain maternal conditions may have a significantly greater impact on this risk than either condition alone. Refers to: Inflammatory Conditions During Pregnancy and Risk of Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders Biological Psychiatry Global Open Science, Volume 4, Issue 1, January 2024, Pages 39-50 Lisa A. Croen, Jennifer L. Ames, Yinge Qian, Stacey Alexeeff, Paul Ashwood, Erica P. Gunderson, Yvonne W. Wu, Andrew S. Boghossian, Robert Yolken, Judy Van de Water, Lauren A. Weiss.
Pregnancy , Risk factors , Causal associations , Outcomes
Khashan, A.S. and O’Keeffe, G.W. (2024) ‘The impact of maternal inflammatory conditions during pregnancy on the risk of autism: methodological challenges’, Biological Psychiatry Global Open Science, 4(2), 100287 (2 pp). Available at:
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