New study links autism and obesity during pregnancy for first time ever

Obesity has already been linked to stillbirths, preterm births and some birth defects. But now a new study has found that the risk of autism is increased by nearly 70 percent when women were obese during their pregnancies. Plus, the risk of having a baby with other neurodevelopmental disorder doubled for these women, as indicated in a study published online today in Pediatrics.

This provocative new research is the first to link a mom's weight with autism, but it should be clear that it doesn't prove that obesity causes autism. According to the study, obese pregnant women's chance of having a child with autism is 1 in 53, compared to 1 in 88 for the average woman. 

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With more than one-third of U.S. women of childbearing age being obese, the findings of this study should not be taken lightly. And, although, criticism around how much weight pregnant women put on is pretty ridiculous sometimes, the reality is that all pregnant women should strive for a healthy weight for the sake of both themselves and their babies

Read more in ¿Qué más?: Dear world: Pregnant women SHOULD gain weight during pregnancy!

It's not really know how a mom's weight might affect fetal development, but it may have something to do with the excess blood sugar and inflammation-related substances in an obese woman's blood. These may reach the fetus and damage the developing brain, said researcher Paul Krakowiak.

In the study, moms with diabetes were slightly more likely to have a baby with autism, but researchers don't know if this is just by chance since the numbers weren't large enough to make the association for sure. The association between diabetes and other neurodevelopmental disorders, however, was stronger. 

More research is still needed, but in the meantime, if you're 35 pounds overweight or more, you should seriously consider losing weight before you get pregnant now more than ever.

What do you think of this study?

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: about pregnancy  first pregnancy