Is There a Link Between Obesity During Pregnancy and Autism?

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Are very overweight pregnant moms more likely to have a baby with autism? The answer might surprise you.

According to a new study in the journal Pediatrics suggests that children born to very overweight women are 67 percent more likely to have autism. They also faced double the risk of having other developmental delays.

“The odds of autism and other developmental delays were significantly higher in the children of moms who were obese versus those who weren’t,” said study author Paula Krakowiak, who noted that one-third of American women “of child-bearing age” are obese.

In March 2012, the CDC released new data that shows a rise in children with autism – about one in 88 children in the United States fall somewhere on the spectrum of autism related disorders, which is a whopping 78% increase from a decade ago. However, some of that change reflects a growing awareness of the disorder and better diagnoses.

More research is needed to confirm the results of this new study, but if a woman’s obesity during pregnancy is truly related to autism, it could be one of the factors contributing to what Mark Roithmayr, president of the research and advocacy group Autism Speaks, called “a national epidemic.”

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