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Fever Reduces Aberrant Behavior in Autistic Children

Study confirms anecdotal reports, suggests presence of underlying biological mechanisms

THURSDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- When children with autism spectrum disorders experience a fever, aberrant behavior may decline, which may add to the understanding of autism's causative mechanisms and treatment opportunities, according to a report published in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Laura K. Curran, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md., and colleagues compared parent responses to the Aberrant Behavior Checklist for 30 autistic children during and after a fever of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, and for 30 autistic children who were fever-free during the same time intervals.

The researchers found that parents of febrile children recorded fewer aberrant behaviors on subscales of irritability, hyperactivity, stereotypy and inappropriate speech compared to parents of control subjects. But they also found that all of these improvements were temporary.

"The data suggest that these changes might not be solely the byproduct of general effects of sickness on behavior; however, more research is needed to prove conclusively fever-specific effects and elucidate their underlying biological mechanisms (possibly involving immunologic and neurobiological pathways, intracellular signaling, and synaptic plasticity)," the authors conclude.

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