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.


5 thoughts on “Obesity, Hypertension, and Diabetes Linked to Autism Risk

  • August 11, 2011 at 8:25 am

    So if we have obesity, diabetes, or hypertension and want to have a baby, how we can have a normal baby? Is there any ways to prevent the autism?

  • May 23, 2011 at 9:32 am

    So where does that put the risk of autism? I realise the study says it increases, but given the number of overweight women in the USA, does this mean a whole generation of autistic children or what?
    Is this increase seen across all races and locations? I’m just trying to understand why the parents educational level had to be ‘adjusted for’.

  • May 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    This is just another reason for the importance of eating right and exercising if not for yourself then think of your child you my eventually have.

  • May 13, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Women who are planning to have children, in their near future especially, need to be made aware of this study. With today’s lifestyle, it would surely suggest that an alarming percentage of the population need to seek the advice of high-risk obstetrician. Even if it’s still not full proof study, taking action such as this would go a long way.

  • May 12, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Unfortunately obesity, hypertension, and diabetes are common health problems and it is also not uncommon to find women (as well as men) with all three disorders together, which can increase risk of autism by several folds.


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