Health + Safety

Autism Linked to Maternal Obesity

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A new study suggests obesity during pregnancy may raise the risk of autism, a developmental disorder that affects one in 88 American children.

The study of more than 1,000 children in California found the risk of autism and other developmental delays was 60 percent higher among those born to mothers who were obese, hypertensive or diabetic.

“The prevalence of obesity and diabetes among U.S. women of childbearing age is 34 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively,” the study authors wrote in their report published today in the journal Pediatrics. “Our findings raise concerns that these maternal conditions may be associated with neurodevelopmental problems in children and therefore could have serious public health implications.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimates one in 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder, up from one in 110 in 2006. Obesity is also on the rise, affecting more than one-third of U.S. adults.