Mothers who are obese or have diabetes during pregnancy are significantly more likely to have children with autism spectrum disorder or developmental delays, concludes a new study in Pediatrics. The findings are particularly worrisome, say the authors, given that nearly 60% of reproductive-age women are overweight, one-third are obese and 8.7% have diabetes. The study involved approximately 1,000 children aged 2 to 5, half of whom had autism; the remaining half had developmental disorders or typical development. The researchers found that obese mothers were 1.67 times more likely to have an autistic child and 2.08 times more likely to have a child with developmental delays. Mothers with diabetes were 2.3 times as likely to have a child with development disorders, although the association between diabetes and autism was not statistically significant. The authors conclude that, given the rising rates of obesity and diabetes among women of childbearing age, their findings could have serious public health implications.
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