The two conditions [diabetes & obesity] in combination nearly quadrupled the risk that a child would receive an autism diagnosis, said researchers who looked at more than 2,700 mother-child pairs.
Individually, maternal obesity or diabetes was linked to twice the odds of giving birth to a child with autism compared to mothers of normal weight without diabetes, the study found.
“The finding is not a total surprise,” said study author Dr. Xiaobin Wang, director of the Center on Early Life Origins of Disease at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “Many studies have shown that maternal obesity and diabetes have an adverse impact on developing fetuses and their long-term metabolic health.”
“Now we have further evidence that maternal obesity and diabetes also impact the long-term neural development of their children,” added Wang.
In the United States, more than one-third of women of reproductive age are obese, while almost 10% struggle with diabetes, the study authors said in background notes.
Prevalence of autism – now affecting 1 in 68 U.S. kids – has skyrocketed since the 1960’s, alongside the incidence of obesity and diabetes in women of reproductive age, the authors pointed out.
Their study, published online Jan. 29 in the journal Pediatrics, involved children born at Boston Medical Center between 1998 and 2014.
Along with pre-pregnancy diabetes, gestational diabetes – a form that develops during pregnancy – was also linked to a higher risk of an autism diagnosis.
Wang said more study will be needed before saying definitively that the combination of maternal obesity and diabetes actually causes autism.
But Andrea Roberts, a research associate at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, suggested otherwise. “I think in this case it probably is causal,” she said. “And therefore if women are able to change their weight status and avoid diabetes they might actually prevent the increase in autism risk in their children.”
Roberts isn’t blaming individual mothers, however. “In terms of casting blame, I would say that when you see a massive increase of obesity over the past 30 years it’s hard to say it’s an individual’s fault or problem. This is a societal issue.”
I have to agree with Andrea Roberts that there probably is a causal effect between obesity, diabetes and autism.
Obesity creates tremendous metabolic change in the human body. The chemistry breaks down and toxic waste accumulates. This has to have negative consequences for the developing fetus. Diabetes is the all too common sequelae to obesity in which the chemistry is so damaged medication must be taken to keep the patient alive. However, massive degenerative changes continue to occur despite medical intervention.
The Bottom Line:
If you can not or will not control your weight to preserve your own health, at least do it for your unborn child.
Source: January 29, 2016 National Institutes of Health