Obese mothers are more likely to have children with autism or other developmental problems, according to a new study.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people. Autism and Asperger syndrome are both part of a range of related developmental disorders known as autistic spectrum disorders (ASD).
Researchers from University of California Davis MIND Institute in the U.S examined almost 1,000 children between the ages of two and five, two thirds of whom had autism or other developmental delays.
Their results, published in the journal Pediatrics, show that women who were obese or had conditions associated with being overweight- like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and gestational diabetes- were more likely to have children with problems.
In fact, obese women were 70 per cent more likely to have a child with autism, and more than twice as likely to have a child with a developmental delay.
The results were similar if the mothers had a metabolic condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes. The authors wrote:
“In this study, we observed that diabetes, hypertension, and obesity were more common among mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders and developmental delay compared with controls.”
All the children in the study underwent independent validated tests to confirm their diagnosis of autism or developmental delay, but the study relied on the women’s own recollection of their health during pregnancy.
Of the children who had autism, those whose mothers had diabetes had more severe language impairments.
Diabetes is a chronic condition caused by too much glucose in the blood. It is suggested that exposure to increased levels of glucose in the womb causes changes in the baby’s metabolism, which may make it more susceptible to conditions such as autism.
Since diabetes is a chronic condition, it may not be covered by private medical insurance. For more information compare health insurance policies online or speak to one of our specialist advisors.
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