Mothers’ Combination of Obesity, Diabetes Significantly Increases Risk of Autism in Children

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill -- February 12, 2016 -- The combination of obesity and diabetes in women significantly increases the risk of autism in their offspring, according to a study published in the February 2016 issue of Pediatrics.

While diabetes and obesity individually increases the likelihood that children born to these women will have autism, the current study showed the combined effect is significantly greater.

The study looked at 2,734 mother-child pairs who were enrolled and followed at Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, between 1998 and 2014.

Mothers who were obese before becoming pregnant had a 2-fold risk of having a child with autism compared with normal weight or underweight mothers. The rate was similar among women who developed diabetes before or during pregnancy.

However, among babies born to mothers with both conditions, the autism risk was almost 4 times higher (hazard ratio = 3.04; 95% confidence interval, 1.21-7.63].

Obesity and diabetes combined also significantly increased the children's risk of having intellectual disabilities.

The authors said the “multiple hits” maternal obesity and diabetes deliver may have a greater impact on a developing fetal brain than either condition alone.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics
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