Obesity and Diabetes in Mothers Linked to Autism and Developmental Disorders

On the heels of the recently announced CDC estimate that 1 in 88 children born today will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder comes a new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, that found a link between metabolic conditions during pregnancy and risk for autism and other developmental disorders. Children born to mothers who had type 2 diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure during pregnancy were 67 percent more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental delays, or other developmental impairments compared to children born to normal-weight mothers without diabetes or high blood pressure.

In addition, children born to mothers with ASD, in addition to metabolic disorders, were more disabled than children with ASD born to healthy mothers. Even children without ASD born to diabetic mothers showed impairments in socialization, and language comprehension and production when compared to non-ASD children of healthy mothers.

Researcher Paula Krakowiak stated, “Over a third of U.S. women in their childbearing years are obese, and nearly one-tenth have gestational or type 2 diabetes during pregnancy. Our finding that these maternal conditions may be linked with neurodevelopmental problems in children raises concerns and therefore may have serious public-health implications. And while the study does not conclude that diabetes and obesity cause ASD and developmental delays, it suggests that fetal exposure to elevated glucose and maternal inflammation levels adversely affect fetal development.”

The devastating effects of obesity and high blood sugar underlie the current chronic disease epidemic that we currently face. That autism spectrum disorder is linked to this phenomenon is not surprising. There are many factors that can contribute to the development of autism, this being just one. Luckily, these metabolic conditions can be reversed. The reversal does not come in a pill, however. It comes when people take back control of their own health by educating themselves, and making permanent diet and lifestyle changes. You must become your own health advocate.

 

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