The shocking new autism research just keeps coming: A mother's obesity while pregnant may greatly boost the odds of having a child with autism, a study out today suggests. Compared to normal-weight study participants, those who were obese while pregnant were 67% more likely to have autistic kids and twice as likely to have kids with other developmental issues. Normally, the odds of having a child with autism are about one in 88; according to the study, obesity boosts those odds to one in 53.
One theory behind the possible link: The inflammation-related substances and high blood sugar found in an obese woman's blood may affect a fetus' brain. The AP cautions that it's one of the first studies to suggest such a link and certainly doesn't prove causation; many other factors, including genetics, are thought to be involved, experts say. Still, the data raises "quite a concern" given the fact that more than one-third of US women of child-bearing age are obese, researchers note. (Read more autism stories.)