In a study released April 9, 2012 by Pediatrics, researchers looked at the possible link between metabolic conditions and autism. While there were more cases of autism amongst mothers with metabolic conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, metabolic conditions do not cause autism.
While the research is interesting, most experts agree that this research does not account for the startling increase in the number of cases of autism.
The study found that women with diabetes or hypertension were 1.61 times more likely to have a child with an autism spectrum disorder, and they were also 2.35 times more likely to have a child with developmental disabilities than women without these metabolic conditions.
With the CDC’s announcement in March that 1 in 88 children have autism, people are looking for answers. In the study published April 9, researchers led by UC Davis epidemiologist Paula Krakowiak investigated 1,004 California children between the ages of 2 and 5. 512 of these children had an autism spectrum disorder, 172 had developmental disabilities, and 312 of the children showed typical development.
There was not a statistically significant relationship between autism and diabetes, but there was a slight link between diabetes and developmental disabilities.
While most of the media is now pointing to obesity as a cause of autism, remember that this study looked at only 1,000 children, and it only proposes a link between the two conditions, and not a causal relationship. More research must be done to back up the findings from this study.
The good news? If obesity does indeed increase the risk of autism, it is a very treatable and preventable issue. Obesity is a problem across the world, and it causes many health concerns apart from the linkage to autism. Many professionals agree staying healthy is ideal for everyone, pregnant or not.
Photo by Ed Yourdon