Experts Say More Research Would Be Needed To Confidently Link Herpes During Pregnancy To Autism

Experts Say More Research Would Be Needed To Confidently Link Herpes During Pregnancy To Autism

While a new study drew closer to linking herpes with autism, some experts disagree.

A study published in the journal mSphere found that pregnant women who were infected by the herpes virus were more likely to have children with autism.

“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.

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,” explains an expert to 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.

“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 Mathew Pletcher to CNN, vice president and head of genomic discovery at Autism Speaks.

Cover image courtesy of Getty Images.