Jun 14, 2017

Fever during pregnancy may increase autism risk

Multiple fevers during pregnancy, especially during the second trimester, are associated with an elevated risk of autism, a new study finds.

What it could mean: While more research is necessary, the new research is consistent with a theory that external environmental factors (like infections and fevers) can trigger an immune response during pregnancy and affect fetal brain development.

The study: Researchers studied nearly 96,000 Norwegian children born between 1999 and 2009. Of that group, 15,701 were from mothers who'd had fevers during the pregnancy and, among this smaller group, 583 were later diagnosed with autism. What these numbers mean is that women who had one or two fevers during pregnancy were 40% (or 1.3 times) more likely to have a child who was later diagnosed with autism. Three or more fevers doubled the slightly elevated risk.

The context: The new research adds to a growing body of peer-reviewed science that indicates genetic and environmental factors are likely to influence the risk of autism well before children start to show signs of autistic behavior. It also comes at a time when the scientifically-discredited myth that vaccines cause autism has begun to gain a higher public profile. No credible studies have found such a link between autism and vaccines, which are administered right around the same time that signs of autism begin to appear in children.

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Scoop: Census Bureau is paying Chinese state media to reach Americans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign, which sends U.S. taxpayer dollars to community media outlets to run ads about the upcoming census, is including a Chinese state-run broadcaster as one of its media vendors.

Why it matters: After China's yearslong campaign to co-opt independent Chinese-language media in the U.S., Washington is now paying Beijing-linked media outlets in order to reach Chinese Americans.

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Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

GOP congressman accuses California pension official of working for China

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The latest season of Red Scare has come to Sacramento.

Driving the news: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) has repeatedly accused Ben Meng, chief investment officer of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), of tacitly working on behalf of the Chinese government. Banks also says that, were it up to him, Meng would be fired — and has questioned the patriotism of California Gov. Gavin Newsom for not at least investigating Meng.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - World