A new study suggests that the odds of developing autism may be significantly elevated for children of mothers who experience hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), or severe morning sickness.

Marlena Fejzo and colleagues compared 267 children delivered by 177 mothers with HG to 93 children delivered by 60 mothers who did not experience this problem. At 12 years of age, the children of the mothers with HG had a more than three-fold increase in the odds of having a diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorder. Eight percent of the children of mothers with HG received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by the age of 12, compared to none of the children in the control group.

More studies need on autism link to morning sickness

Researchers say: “As early intervention for ASD can be critical to prognosis, larger studies are urgently needed to determine whether ASD is associated with exposure to hyperemesis gravidarum.”


“Analysis of neurodevelopmental delay in children exposed in utero to hyperemesis gravidarum reveals increased reporting of autism spectrum disorder,” Marlena Fejzo, Alyssa Kam, Amanda Laguna, Kimber MacGibbon, and Patrick Mullin, Reproductive Toxicology, Volume 84, March 2019, 59-64. Address: Marlena Fejzo, Department of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, [email protected].

This article also appears in Vol. 33, No. 1, 2019, of Autism Research Review International

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