Surprising Findings Link Autism in Children and Maternal Obesity
Chances are that you know someone who is on the autism spectrum. Currently, one child in 88 has some form of autism. And the numbers are on the rise. This dramatic increase in autism spectrum disorders has scientists searching for connections.
One of the most immediate connections is obesity. As the obesity numbers are increasing, so too is the incidence of autism. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control more than one-third of all Americans are obese. This means that more and more pregnant mothers are obese.
A study conducted by the University of California-Davis and Vanderbilt University and released in April of 2012 found that mothers who are obese before they get pregnant have a 1 in 53 chance of having a child with an autism spectrum disorder. That’s a 67 percent increase from the norm.
Supporting the Link Between Autism in Children and Maternal Obesity
Researchers believe that this link isn’t a surprise since maternal obesity is linked to an increase in stillborn babies, pre-term births, and birth defects. Mothers who are obese often have their own significant health challenges including high blood pressure, diabetes, and other metabolic conditions. These conditions present an increased risk for the child and may significantly impact their development.
Research has shown that the highest risk period for developing an autism spectrum disorder is the time in the womb. This is contrary to what many people believe about children who develop autism. One common theory is that it is caused by vaccinations. However, this theory has yet to be proven.
Scientists believe that when a mother’s body cannot properly produce insulin – which is a factor of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and also a common symptom of obesity – the transportation of blood sugar to the baby’s brain may be affected and thus hinder development.
Not the Last Word on Autism
This study is just the beginning and by no means the last word on autism causes and cures. However, it does point out that it is important for a mother to be in her best health before she becomes pregnant, in order to give her unborn child the best chance at a long, happy, and healthy life.
Take Charge of Your Health Before You Get Pregnant
Women who are trying to have a child should ideally take time to get to a healthy weight. Carrying a child is hard on your body and you want to not only experience a happy and healthy pregnancy but also want to give your baby the best of everything. It all may start by losing weight and taking care of your own health first.