1. Andrew Furley Andrew Furley United Kingdom says:

    I have been following this story quite carefully in Nature and I am concerned by the tone of your reporting, particularly the implication that these papers involved human subjects, which is quite strongly suggested by your opening paragraph: "indicated that mothers who were affected with severe infections that required hospitalization are at an increased risk of having an autistic child.". On its own this would not be too bad (it rests on the word 'indicates'; in science writing 'indicates' is considerably stronger than 'suggests', which I think would have been more appropriate here). However, this becomes much more worrying when combined with the following sentence further down: "The findings showed that not all mothers with a serious infection end up having an autistic child"; neither of these papers 'showed' this as neither study involved human subjects. The closest the papers get to human studies was the feeding of human gut bacteria to the mouse models.

    These are very interesting papers and they do strongly suggest a connection between pregnancy infection and behavioural changes and a mechanism by which they may be effected, but there is no proof that this is happening in humans which is what your article strongly implies. Greater responsibility with your wording would be appreciated.

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