Obesity and diabetes type 2 are bad news, especially during pregnancy. But according to a new study, a mom's obesity or diabetes while pregnant may also contribute to a child's risk of having autism or other developmental problems.
The study was published in the journal Paediatrics and looked at 1,000 mothers and babies over a period of seven years. The researchers concluded that high glucose levels during pregnancy could affect brain development in a fetus. Others have questioned this and say that further research needs to be done. In the meantime, let's have a look at the statistics:
In California, where the study was conducted, 1.3 percent of women have type 2 diabetes and 7.4 percent have gestational diabetes. A total of 9.3 percent of the children who were monitored by the study and whose moms had diabetes type 2 were autistic. In addition, 11.6 percent of kids from that same group had other developmental disabilities. More than 20 percent of mothers of children who were either autistic or had other developmental disabilities were obese. This is compared to 14 percent among the non-obese population.
The risk of autism and other developmental disabilities was found to be twice as high among children with obese or diabetic moms than in kids of moms with no metabolic problems. All of this may seem like nothing more than a statistical curiosity, until you see the actual percentage of obese women in the United States.
The research team noted that 34 percent of US women of childbearing age are obese (!!!) ... (and obese means more than a few pounds extra!) and that nine percent are diabetic. What's more, those children who were born to moms with metabolic disorders were also found to have lower cognitive abilities and to score lower on all kinds of tests, even when there was no autism.
Paula Krakowiak, from the MIND Institute at the University of California Davis, was one of the researchers in the study. She said: "Our finding that these maternal conditions may be linked with neurodevelopmental problems in children raises concerns and therefore may have serious public-health implications."