Study Finds Potential Connection

Recent research has found autism is 60 percent more likely when mom is obese or suffers from diabetes or high blood pressure. Read on to find out more.

Woman stepping on scale

New research links autism spectrum disorders with maternal obesity, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics. The study showed moms who were obese, diabetic or hypertensive had a
60 percent higher chance of having a child on the spectrum.

Autism cause?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states autism affects 1 out of every 88 children -- an increase in recent years. As more and more families are impacted by these developmental disorders, more research is undertaken to try to find a cause, as well as to find more ways to help those affected.

There have been different theories on the rise of autism and its root cause, and mom's weight is just the most recent hypothesis. One author of the study pointed out it was difficult to say whether the two were definitely linked.

"It might be there's some environmental factor that contributes both to the obesity epidemic and to the rise in autism cases," said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of public health sciences at the University of California at Davis. "Or it could be the increase in obesity is, in fact, contributing to the increase in autism."

What you can do

Try to attain your ideal weight prior to conception, but if you aren't able to, make sure you eat right and exercise regularly with your doctor's blessing. If you develop gestational diabetes, follow your practitioner's advice to keep yourself as healthy as possible.

You'll also need to keep in mind that no research has proven conclusively any one factor is a cause of autism. Some experts believe it is a combination of factors, possibly environmental as well as genetic, and this is simply another piece of the puzzle.

More on autism

Study shows (again) that vaccines do not cause autism
Autism more common in high-tech cities
Older moms linked to austism risk

Tags: pregnacy

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