Mothers who are obese during their pregnancy are almost twice as likely to have a child with autism than those who weigh less, according to a recent study. Now, new findings published in the journal Pediatrics also show that being obese and having diabetes during pregnancy can almost quadruple autism risk in the future child.
Statistics show that about one in 68 children have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“In terms of absolute risk, compared to common pediatric diseases such as obesity and asthma, the rate of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the U.S. population is relatively low, however, the personal, family and societal impact of ASD is enormous,” said senior study author Dr. Xiaobin Wang, a public health and pediatrics researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, in a news release. During the study, researchers analyzed data on close to 3,000 mother-child pairs followed at Boston Medical Center between 1998 and 2014. Findings showed that about 64 percent of the children were diagnosed with a development disorder while 102 kids who did receive an ASD diagnosis.
The study showed that 64 percent of the children were diagnosed with a development disorder while 102 kids who did receive an ASD diagnosis. The findings further suggest that risk rises close to 3 percent in babies born to women who are obese or have diabetes-meanwhile, it approaches 5 to 6 percent when mothers are both obesity and have diabetes during their pregnancy.
“Our research highlights that the risk for autism begins in utero,” said co-author M. Daniele Fallin, Ph.D., chair of the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health and director of the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. “It’s important for us to now try to figure out what is it about the combination of obesity and diabetes that is potentially contributing to sub-optimal fetal health.”