Obesity, Hypertension, and Diabetes Linked to Autism Risk
Research presented at the International meeting for autism research in San Diego suggests that women who have diabetes, hypertension, or who are obese before pregnancy are more likely to have children with autism. According to Irva Hertz-Picciotto, PhD, an autism researcher at the University of California, Davis MIND Institute, “For mothers with at least one of these conditions, there was a 60% increased risk for autism in the offspring…”
According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 110 U.S children have autism spectrum disorder or ASD. ASD are a group of developmental disorders that can result in significant problems with social, behavior, and communication.
In total, 1001 children were enrolled in the CHARGE study which is an acronym for Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment. Of these 1001 children, 508 had ASD, 178 had developmental delays, and 315 were normally developing children.
After adjusting for other confounding variables such as the mother’s education, the researchers found that mothers of children with autism were 60% more likely to have one of the three previously mentioned conditions (obesity, diabetes, or hypertension).
In fact, the mothers of children who were developmentally delayed were 150% more likely to have one of these three medical conditions.
The researchers speculated that a metabolic disruption such as an inflammatory pathway might be linking these conditions.
Experts who attended the conference such as Alycia Halladay, PhD, a researcher for Autism Speaks, suggest that the best advice for women who have diabetes, high blood pressure, or are obese before pregnancy is to see a high-risk obstetrician.
As a disclaimer, these research findings are still considered preliminary as they have not as of yet undergone a peer-review process which accompanies being published in a medical journal.