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Obesity, Diabetes During Pregnancy Quadruple Autism Risk

Update Date: Feb 01, 2016 10:46 AM EST

A new study has linked maternal weight and diabetes to increased risk of autism in children.

According to The Times of India, the study by researchers from Johns Hopkins revealed that children born to diabetic and obese mothers had four times increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) compared to children born of mothers with normal weight. Though the study did not show a cause-effect relationship, it adds to the growing body of evidence that ASD begins in the womb.

"Maternal pre-pregnancy obesity and maternal diabetes in combination were associated with increased risk for ASD and Intellectual Disabilities (ID). ASD with ID may be etiologically distinct from ASD without ID,"

"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," study co-author M. Daniele Fallin said.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 2,734 mother-children pairs from Boston Medical Center between 1998 and 2014. Information obtained pertained to maternal weight before pregnancy, incidence of diabetes (whether pre-pregnancy or gestational) among other data. Around 100 children were diagnosed with autism from which researchers made the association.

Forbes reports that one in 68 children have ASD, a range of disorders associated with developmental difficulties. In mothers with both obesity and diabetes, the risk is doubled, when compared to women with either condition.

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