Obesity, diabetes during pregnancy increase risk of autism in children: Study

Obesity, diabetes during pregnancy increase risk of autism in children: Study

Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now, a recent study says that expectant mothers’ health can sow the seeds of autism in the unborn child.

The research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reveals that expectant mothers who are obese and suffer from diabetes increase the chance of autism in their children by four times compared to healthy weight women. And, as per a report on reuters.com, the risk increases by five times if the mother had diabetes before conception.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, says that the chance of autism starts in the uterus. Co-author of the study M. Daniele Fallin said, “It’s important for us to now try to figure out what is it about the combination of obesity and diabetes that is potentially contributing to sub-optimal fetal health.”

Researchers have not been able to pinpoint the exact reason. “While the exact reason for these connections isn’t clear, it’s possible that increased inflammation, nutrients and hormones linked to diabetes and obesity may be responsible for the added autism risk. These factors impact how the brain develops,” said Elinor Sullivan, a biology and neuroscience researcher at the University of Portland, Oregon, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Experts say that women should check diabetes and weight gain before conception and should try to maintain it even during pregnancy not just to ward off autism but other problems as well in the unborn child.

An expectant mother should also be careful with her medication as side effects can also increase the chance of autism in the child. A report published on the huffingtonpost.com in 2015 said that a study from researchers in Montreal found that women who use antidepressants during the late stages of pregnancy have 87 percent higher chance of giving birth to a child who will be diagnosed with autism. And, for women who take selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) the risk reaches 200 percent.

Problems related to autism

A report published on nbcnews.com in 2015 says that a team at the CDC and the University of Washington has found that autism may be over-diagnosed in as many as 9 percent of children. According to the researchers, this might be happening because a broad spectrum of symptoms and behaviors are related to autism which makes it difficult to diagnose at times and people have become more aware about autism.

“The results of this study suggest that some children with developmental delays, attentional flexibility problems, or other conditions may be receiving provisional yet inaccurate diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder from non specialists,” the researchers wrote in the report, published in the journal Autism.

About autism spectrum disorder

An autism spectrum disorder is a group of disorders related to brain development. It can be seen in infancy and early childhood when the child shows problems in basic areas of development, such as learning to talk, play, and interact with others. Some of the symptoms of ASD are:

Tackling autism

The CDC says that ASD cannot be treated or cured through any medications. It’s just that patients need to learn function better through medications and specialist help. For example, medication might help control related symptoms such as high energy levels, inability to focus, depression, or seizures. For children, it is important to work in tandem with a healthcare professional. More than 3.5 million Americans live with an ASD which costs the U.S. $236-262 billion annually.

To live with a mental disorder is a challenging task for the patients and family members. But medication and support can go a long way in making things easy. If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental health issue, help is available. Contact the Sovereign Mental Health Services today to find out more about treatment options. Get in touch with our expert via online chat or call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 for further information.

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