Obese? Chance of Birthing Autistic Kid Jumps 67%

Inflammation, high blood sugar during pregnancy could be a factor
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2012 6:34 AM CDT
Obese? Chance of Birthing Autistic Kid Jumps 67%
Autism may be associated with obesity in pregnancy.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – 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.

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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.)

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