Study Finds a Link Between Obese Moms and Autistic Kids

Illustration for article titled Study Finds a Link Between Obese Moms and Autistic Kids

In the ongoing hunt to figure out what's causing the alarming increase in autism in children, there's a new finding that's bound to stir up a lot of debate. The study in question found that there appears to be a link between obesity in mothers and autism in their children. This is one of the first studies to connect the two, though it doesn't come close to proving obesity causes autism.

Still, the results are intriguing. The study, which was conducted at the University of California, Davis, and appears in Pediatrics, looked at 1,000 children between the ages of two and five. Some 700 of them had autism or developmental delays. Researchers found that women who were obese during pregnancy were 67 percent more likely to have autistic children than were women who were in the normal weight range. In addition, obese mothers also had twice the risk of having children with other developmental delays. The average chance of a woman having a child with autism is one in 88, and according to the results of this study, that increases to a one in 53 chance for those who are obese during pregnancy.

The study's co-author Paula Krakowiak explained that inflammation and excess blood sugar, which are linked to obesity, may be to blame. Substances related to inflammation and excess blood sugar could reach the baby and damage its brain. The problem with the study, however, is that they weren't actively studying the women in pregnancy, so they don't have blood test data or solid information on the women's diets and habits during pregnancy. Thus, this is a long way from being considered conclusive proof of anything, but it could have profound implications, since more than a third of woman of childbearing age in the U.S. are considered obese.


Autism may be linked to obesity during pregnancy [AP]

Image via kentoh/Shutterstock.

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Violet Baudelaire

This is some pretty solid fat blaming, especially since you're correlating obesity with autism, and that's presupposing that you're correlating obesity with poor health. There's nothing here about the actual health of the mothers, only that these mothers read as "obese" which is normally determined by outdated standardized height/weight charts or the even more outdated and bad science based BMI measure. Is it true that many overweight people are unhealthy? Sure. It's also true many underweight people are unhealthy. And many "normal" weight people. If you want to hypothesize that blood sugar and inflammation affect the baby, that's great - that sounds like a pretty solid study with some interesting implications for all women. But that wasn't studied or looked at here, just added in as a potential explanation for the results.