Obesity During Pregnancy Boosts Autism Risk: Study

Mothers who were obese during pregnancy were 70 percent more likely to have their children diagnosed with autism, the study found

By Sam Schulz
|  Monday, Apr 9, 2012  |  Updated 10:58 AM PDT
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A new study suggests that a mother's weight during pregnancy could play a role in her child's development. A new study of one thousand mothers and their children finds that women who are obese during pregnancy are sixty percent more likely to have a child with autism. NBC's Michelle Franzen reports.

NBC

A new study suggests that a mother's weight during pregnancy could play a role in her child's development. A new study of one thousand mothers and their children finds that women who are obese during pregnancy are sixty percent more likely to have a child with autism. NBC's Michelle Franzen reports.

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The children of mothers who are obese while pregnant may be at a much greater risk for autism, a new study suggests.

The research published Monday in the journal Pediatrics found that children born to mothers who were obese during their pregnancies were 70 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism and more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with some other neurodevelopmental disorder.

Maternal diabetes, by contrast, seemed to put children at only a slightly elevated risk of autism, MSNBC reported. It elevated risks of another neurodevelopmental disorder more, with diabetic mothers twice as likely to have their children diagnosed with one, the study found.

The study tracked 315 children who were developing normally as well as 517 with autism and 172 with other developmental disorders. It examined the impact of their mothers' obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure on their pregnancies — and on the children.

The authors of the study, led by Paula Krakowiak at the University of California, Davis, stressed that it was unclear whether obesity were actually affecting fetal development or the obese mothers had something else in common, too.

They also said that if maternal obesity during pregnancy were affecting fetal development, it was unclear why that might be the case.

They said that inflammatory proteins produced by fat cells or elevated blood glucose levels in moms could possibly interfere with fetal brain development.

Diagnoses of disorders along the autism spectrum as well as diagnoses of obesity have both been rising in recent years.

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