New autism research links maternal obesity to diagnosis

About one in 88 children are diagnosed with autism, but it is possible that 10% of affected children will outgrow their diagnosis by the time they are teenagers. April was National Autism Awareness Month, which put a start on new research regarding the causes of the disorder.

One study presents a theory that mothers who are obese or have diabetes during pregnancy will see a higher rate of autism in their children. Researchers from the University of California, Davis observed 1,004 children ages two to five involved in the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study between the years of 2003–2010. There were 517 children with autism, 172 children with other developmental disorders, and 315 normally developing children included in the study.

According to the study, the findings showed obese mothers were 67% more likely to have a child with autism and more than twice as likely to have a child with another developmental disorder than a mother of normal weight. Additionally, mothers with diabetes are 2.3 times more likely to have a child with a developmental disorder, but there wasn’t any statistically significant difference in having a child with autism.

There is still no real answer to what actually causes autism, according to Paula Krakowiak, the lead author of the study. But one research takeaway is a little bit of common sense: pregnant women must take care of themselves in order to keep their babies healthy and avoid the risk factors of autism.