Home / Press Release / New study links maternal obesity and diabetes to autism among babies

New study links maternal obesity and diabetes to autism among babies

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has revealed a staggering fact about the children’s health and diseases. According to the data released, around 1.5 percent, or one in 68, of children in the nation have ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The study has also revealed that the diabetes and/or obesity of mothers is directly linked to the risk of babies born with autism spectrum disorder. The research has been published in the Pediatrics journal of the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). This is said to be the first of its kind to look into the direct and indirect effects of pre-pregnancy obesity and diabetes of mothers on the risk of developmental disorders (DDs) along with the risk of ASD.

Study author Dr. Xiaobin Wang, director of the Center on Early Life Origins of Disease at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said in a statement:

“The finding is not a total surprise. Many studies have shown that maternal obesity and diabetes have an adverse impact on developing fetuses and their long-term metabolic health. Now we have further evidence that maternal obesity and diabetes also impact the long-term neural development of their children.

Researchers have spent 16 years studying about the link between maternal health and autism. During the study period between 1998 to 2014, the researchers have studied exactly 2,734 mother-child pairs from the Boston Medical Center. The final result of the research suggested that the risk of ASD among babies born to moms who had pre-pregnancy obesity or maternal diabetes increases to approximately 3 percent. If the women had both obesity and diabetes, the risk of autism among the born babies rises to about 5 to 6 percent.

According to the study author, although the risk of the rate of autism in the U.S. is lower compared to asthma, obesity and other common pediatric diseases, the effect of autism disorder on the lives of both the patient and the families involved is huge. As of now, in the United States, approximately one third of childbearing aged women are obese, while about one tenth of this category have diabetes. It’s a fact that around two to ten percent of mothers develop diabetes suring pregnancy.

“It is really good advice for women to achieve a healthy weight and get diabetes under control before becoming pregnant for many reasons not related to autism,” According to Renee Gardner, a public health researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden. Gardner is not part of the research, but she noted that the mothers who suffers from obesity or uncontrolled diabetes have a higher risk on both their health and their children’s. She added that the risk is not only involve autism, but also miscarriage, C-section delivery and serious pregnancy complications.

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