Obese Moms May Be More Likely To Have Autistic Child

Women who are obese when pregnant may have a higher risk of having a baby with autism, a new study indicates.

Researchers found that the risk of autism increased by nearly 70 percent when moms were obese during their pregnancies, while the risk of a having a baby with some other neurodevelopmental disorder doubled, according to the study published early online Monday in Pediatrics.

Milder versions of autism, such as Asperger's syndrome and related conditions, form a "spectrum" of autism-related disorders. In addition, impairments in any one of the autism-related cognitive skill areas are considered developmental delays.

To take a closer look at the impact of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy, the researchers compared medical histories of 315 typically developing children to those of 517 children with autism and 172 children with developmental disorders.

Moms with diabetes were slightly more likely to have a baby with autism, but the numbers weren’t large enough for the researchers to be sure that the association wasn’t just by chance. The association between a mom’s diabetes and some other neurodevelopmental disorder was stronger. In fact, diabetic moms were more than twice as likely to have a child later diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Dr. Daniel Coury, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said the results "raise quite a concern."

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