Study: Kids at greater autism risk if moms had infection while pregnant

Photo of pregnant woman undergoing sonogram
Photo: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Children of women who had been hospitalized with infections like the flu, pneumonia and sepsis while pregnant may have a much greater risk of having depression or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry.

Why it matters: There's been some debate in the scientific community on whether infections in utero could be a factor in the development of ASD. This large and long-term study — which showed a 79% increased ASD risk and a 24% increased depression risk in those children — offers further evidence there may be a link, plus new information that this could also be a factor in depression, study author Kristina Adams Waldorf tells Axios.

Rand Paul equates mandatory vaccinations with "giving up liberty"

In this image, Senator Rand Paul sits behind his name plaque at a hearing.
Sen. Rand Paul. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), an ophthalmologist, equated government-mandated vaccinations to "giving up on liberty for a false sense of security" at a Senate Health Committee hearing on Tuesday.

"I'm not here to say don't vaccinate your kids. If this hearing is for persuasion I'm all for the persuasion. I've vaccinated myself and I've vaccinated my kids. For myself and my children I believe that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweigh the risks, but I still don't favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security."
— Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Details: The hearing sought to address the role vaccines play in preventable disease outbreaks, and included witnesses such as Ethan Lindenberger, who had himself inoculated at 18 against his parents' wishes. At chairman Lamar Alexander's (R-Tenn.) prompting, the hearing also addressed the now-retracted 12-person study published in 1998 that is partly responsible for the ongoing false belief that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism.

Go deeper: Long-term measles vaccine study shows no link with autism — again