Obese women suffering from diabetes or hypertension could be at increased risk of having a child with autism or other developmental disorder, suggests a US study. A team of researchers from the University of California Davis revealed that higher levels of glucose during pregnancy may affect the brain development of an unborn baby.
For their analysis researchers carried out a study in California, involving more than one thousand children and mother and were observed over the period of seven years. Where the study was conducted, about one and half percent of women have Type 2 diabetes and seven and half percent of women developed diabetes during pregnancy.
The researchers found that among children whose mothers had suffered Type 2 diabetes during their pregnancies, nine and half percent of those children had autism. Additionally nearly twelve percent of children in that group showed evidence of developmental delays. The study distinguished that thirty-four percent of women of child-bearing age are obese and nearly nine percent are diabetic.
It was also found that over twenty percent of the mothers of children with autism or other developmental delays were obese, in comparison to fourteen percent of the mothers of normally developing children. About thirty percent of autistic children had mother with metabolic condition during pregnancy such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension.
The study also analyzed the association between high blood pressure or hypertension and autism or developmental disorder. Hypertension was more common among mothers of children with autism or developmental disorder, although it was not statistically significant. When examining cognitive abilities, researchers found, children of diabetic mothers did not perform as good as children of non-diabetic mothers in test of communication skills.
Being there of any metabolic condition was associated with lower scores on all of the tests among children without autism. Obesity is a key risk factor for diabetes and hypertension that is typified by increased insulin resistance. The study findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.
Lead author Paula Krakowiak from the MIND Institute at the University of California Davis, stated the study finding that these maternal conditions may be linked with neurodevelopmental problems in children raises concerns and therefore may have serious public-health implications. Dr Matthew Hobbs, head of research at Diabetes UK, stated further research was needed.