1 May 2012
Mothers who have metabolic conditions, including type 2 or gestational diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity, may be at greater risk of having a child with autism or delayed development, a US study has found.
The research, part of the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study, showed the prevalence of metabolic conditions was higher among mothers of children with autism/autism spectrum disorders and other developmental delays.
Mothers with diabetes had a two-fold increased risk of having a child with developmental delay. In addition, the risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or developmental delay was found to be significantly increased among obese women.
Among children with autism, those whose mothers had diabetes during pregnancy had greater deficits in expressive language compared with children of nondiabetic mothers. Maternal diabetes was also linked with slower language development in children without autism spectrum disorder.
The researchers, from the University of California, say a number of mechanisms could be factoring into the results. However, to date, there is no research to show whether the outcomes of this study can be changed by better management of metabolic disease during pregnancy.
Last Reviewed: 01 May 2012