Medical News Today: What to know about fever during pregnancy

Some studies have suggested that fevers during pregnancy may increase the likelihood of congenital irregularities and autism. However, the research so far is inconclusive.

The sections below look at the research into the possible effects of a fever on a developing fetus.

Congenital irregularities

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), congenital irregularities affect around 1 in every 33 babies in the United States.

A 2014 review of 46 previous studies found that experiencing a fever during the first trimester of pregnancy may increase the chance of the baby being born with oral clefts, congenital heart defects, and neural tube defects by around 1.5 to 3 times.

However, the results of several of the studies that the researchers reviewed had insufficient evidence to confirm any association between fever and congenital irregularities.

According to the CDC, women who reported experiencing a fever during pregnancy were at least twice as likely to give birth to a baby with neural tube defects. However, there is evidence to suggest that consuming the recommended dosage of folic acid may reduce this likelihood.

According to a 2017 study, however, there is very little evidence to support the idea that maternal fever contributes to the likelihood of congenital irregularities.

Although there appears to be some evidence to suggest that experiencing a fever during pregnancy can increase the chance of congenital irregularities, more recent research appears to contradict this.

Pregnant women or those who wish to become pregnant can talk to a doctor to discuss their individual risk factors if concerned.


A 2018 analysis found a link between maternal fevers and autism, particularly when the fever occurred during the second trimester.

The same study also found that more frequent fevers further elevated the likelihood. However, the chance of autism in fetuses exposed to fever was lower if the woman took antifever medication during pregnancy.

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