How do children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) react to febrile illness?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Children with autism may be particularly vulnerable to develop infections and febrile illnesses due to immunologic problems. By seeking pediatric intervention promptly at the onset of infections and febrile illnesses, parents may be able to abort sequelae of chronic infections.

During a febrile illness, children with autistic disorder may show a decrease in behavioral abnormalities that plague the parents when the child is well (eg, self-injurious behaviors, aggression toward others, property destruction, temper tantrums, hyperactivity).

This inhibition of negative behaviors may occur with various febrile illnesses, including ear infections, upper respiratory tract infections, and childhood illnesses. (A parent may say, "When he is suddenly an angel, I know that he has an ear infection.") The recovery of the child from the febrile illness may be accompanied by an abrupt return of the child's usual problematic behaviors.

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