This study was investigating whether or not there is a casual relationship between infections in the pregnant person during pregnancy and autism or intellectual disability. This study was funded by Autism Speaks, because of course it was. This money used to fund this could have been used to help autistic people.
The researchers in this study examined the data on 549,967 children born between 1987 and 2010 who lived in Sweden. This study included only pregnant people who had sever infections that required a specialist for treatment and using diagnostic codes from patient and birth records. This was not a clinical trial but a review of medical records.
They excluded children not born in Sweden, adopted children and children with unknown biological fathers or mothers. This leaves a lot of gaps in the study sample.
They built this study under the assumption from past studies that infections that required care were correlated to autism and intellectual disabilities. Remember that correlation does not equal causation.
Discussion and Findings
When they compared sibling pairs where the parent had an infection during one pregnancy but not the other, researchers could not find any link between infection and the children’s likelihood of being autistic.
For the intellectually disabled, the link was weaker when the researcher compared sibling pairs then when they compared children who are not related.
The researchers also found that infections during the year before pregnancy were linked to autism to the same degree as infections during pregnancy were not linked to intellectual disability.
“The link between infections in pregnant women and the increased risk of autism in their children does not appear to be casual. Our results suggest that the increase in risk is more likely to be explained by factors common between family members, such as genetic variation or certain aspect of shared environment,”said Martin Bring, PhD student at the Department of Global Public Health, Karolinksa Instituet and one of the study’s first two authors.
So, autism and intellectual disability are genetic. The autistic community have been shouting this from the roof tops. Will Autism Speaks start listening? Of course not.
They try to cover themselves by saying that their findings “do not contradict the significance of well established Lish links between some viral infections during pregnancy, such as cytomegalovirus infection and rubella, and the risk of serious developmental conditions of the child.”
They did not include COVID 19 infection in this study. Many COVID 19 infections required care. This is a serious flaw in a perceived breakthrough study.