New research has highlighted the risk of autism for children born to women who are obese, hypertensive or diabetic.
In a study of over 1,000 children in California, which was reported in the journal Pediatrics, it was claimed that obesity during pregnancy can increase the chances of having an autistic child by as much as 60 per cent, and that autism could be associated with poor maternal Nutrition, the use of antidepressants and closely spaced pregnancies.
The team were exploring possible modifiable risk factors, whether weight reduction and diabetes control during pregnancy through physical exercise and diet might alter the risk of a child developing autism. Their report stated “Our findings raise concerns that these maternal conditions may be associated with neurodevelopmental problems in children and therefore could have serious public health implications.”
However, the reasons for obesity and diabetes during pregnancy maybe predisposing the developing foetus towards autism were not explained, but may be due to overexposure to glucose, insulin or inflammation.
Researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto said “It’s hard to say if they’re linked. It might be there’s some environmental factor that contributes both to the obesity epidemic and to the rise in autism cases. Or it could be the increase in obesity is, in fact, contributing to the increase in autism. But it’s certainly not going to account for all of it.”

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