Association of Prenatal Infections with Paediatric Neurodevelopmental Conditions

Pavankumar Kamat


May 27, 2021


  • Prenatal infections, particularly maternal-reported, were associated with the increased odds of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in offspring.

  • No association between hospital-recorded prenatal infections and ASD or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in offspring was observed.

Why this matters

  • Previous evidence suggests prenatal maternal infections as a risk factor for neurodevelopmental conditions in offspring.

Study details

  • This study included 15,462 children and mother pairs from the UK Millennium Cohort Study.

  • Data on hospital-recorded infections were obtained from linked maternity inpatient records, and maternal-reported infections were obtained from interviews at around 9 months after the birth of the cohort child.

  • Funding: UK Economic and Social Research Council and others.

Key results

  • Overall, 8.7% of mothers had a prenatal infection, either maternal-reported (n=1151) or hospital-recorded (n=253).

  • ASD, ADHD and concurrent ASD+ADHD were reported in 3.7%, 3.2% and 1.2% of children, respectively.

  • The occurrence of any prenatal infection was associated with an increased risk of ASD (adjusted OR [aOR], 1.48; 95% CI, 1.14-1.91).

  • Hospital-recorded infections were not associated with ASD, ADHD or ASD+ADHD.

  • Maternal-reported infections were associated with increased odds of ASD (aOR, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.31-2.40), but not ADHD and ASD+ADHD.


  • No information on the timing of exposure to infections in the Millennium Cohort Study.

  • Retrospective nature of the items on maternal-reported infections.


Hall HA, Speyer LG, Murray AL, Auyeung B. Prenatal Maternal Infections and Children's Neurodevelopment in the UK Millennium Cohort Study: A Focus on ASD and ADHD. J Atten Disord. 2021 May 19 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1177/10870547211015422. PMID: 34009046.  View full text

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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