“Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. For a diagnosis to be made, symptoms must become apparent before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood. It is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum (ASDs), the other two being Asperger syndrome, which lacks delays in cognitive development and language, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (commonly abbreviated as PDD-NOS), which is diagnosed when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome are not met.”According to this study, nearly 60% of child-bearing women aged 20 to 39 in the U.S. are overweight and one-third are obese. Similarly, nearly 29% of Canadian women are overweight and 23% are obese as per Statistics Canada. In addition, obesity rates are on a rapid incline for women between the ages of 25 and 34 years and to the point that it is almost twice as high as it was 25 years ago.
At the same time, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appears to be growing alongside these rates as approximately 1 in every 110 children is diagnosed with this disorder.
At present, the exact cause of autism is not known; however there is significant research to suggest that its development likely occurs in the womb, therefore lead author Paula Krakowiak wondered whether there might be a connection between obesity rates among women of child-bearing age and autism.
Researchers studied more than 1,000 children and their mothers to obtain evidence to support for their claim that obesity and diabetes during pregnancy could put children at increased risk for autism spectrum disorder and other neurodevelopmental problems. The team analyzed data gathered via telephone interviews and medical records from mothers with children aged 2 to 5 born in California and enrolled in the CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment) Study between January 2003 and June 2010. Of those studied, 513 children had autism; 172 had other developmental disorders and 315 children were developing normally. Researchers took into account the mother’s age at the time of delivery, their education level and various other factors.
Results showed that “overall, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure were more prevalent among mothers of children with autism or other developmental disorders than the "control" moms.” In addition, “obese women were 67 per cent more likely to have a child with autism compared to healthy-weight mothers. They were also about twice as likely to have a child with another developmental disorder.” Basically, 21.5% of the mothers with autistic children and 23.8% of the mothers with children with another developmental disorder were obese whereas only 14.3% of the mothers with normally developing children were considered obese. Furthermore, “mothers with diabetes were found to have nearly twice the chance of having a child with developmental delays as healthy mothers.”
If proven, imagine how this new discovery might impact public health…
Autism Linked To Obesity During Pregnancy
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