(HealthDay News) — Fever during pregnancy is associated with adverse health outcomes for the offspring, according to research published online February 24 in Pediatrics.

Julie Werenberg Dreier, MSPH, of the University of Southern Denmark in Esbjerg, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of the literature to identify cohort and case-control studies addressing health outcomes of prenatal exposure to fever. The relation between maternal fever during pregnancy and child health outcomes was assessed. Preterm births were excluded.

According to the researchers, the evidence suggests that fever exposure during the first trimester increases, by 1.5 to nearly three times, the risk of neural tube defects, congenital heart defects, and oral clefts. There was no strong evidence of a dose-response effect. Antipyretic medications used during febrile episodes in the mother may have a protective effect for the fetus.

“We found substantial evidence to support the contention that maternal fever during pregnancy may negatively affect offspring health,” the authors write.

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