Besides the threats posed by these diseases to the pregnant woman herself, it seems that autism risk is increased babies birthed by moms suffering from diabetes or obesity. The study which showed this correlation between the two illnesses was conducted at John Hopkins University in Baltimore.
The research was based on the analysis of over 2,700 mother and child pairs over the course of 20 years. According to the statistics released by the research team after the study as concluded, babies born from mothers who suffer from both obesity and diabetes have the risk towards developing Autism Spectrum Disorder increased by almost 400%.
Even though when compared to common pediatric illnesses, such as asthma and obesity, ASD has an extremely low chance of developing, the latter disorder’s impact on both individual and social life is tremendous, to say the least. By looking at the numbers released by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention regarding ASD occurrence rates, about one in 64 babies develop this disorder.
This can be rounded off to a 1.5% of US children. But when applying the idea that the mother has diabetes or obesity, this risk increases to 3%. If the mother in question suffers from both of these disorders, the risk of the child developing ASD after birth is marked at 6%.
The babies who are the most vulnerable to ASD are boys birthed prematurely. Mothers with children diagnosed with ASD tend to be older, obese and have a prior diabetes diagnosis, either during or before pregnancy.
But one has to take into account that even if this study shows an increase in risk, this analysis is based on correlation, with researchers not exactly knowing why this phenomenon occurs. In other words, all of the study’s findings have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
One of the reasons why this risk is increased could be based on inflammations and hormone alterations caused by diabetes and obesity. This could directly affect the unborn child, but in order to prove this theory’s viability, further studies have to be conducted.
Another reason why this study is rather inconclusive is based on the alleged fact that some of the children diagnosed with ASD were only suffering from tentative symptoms. Eventually, they would disappear completely, leading to a healthy baby. Some parties even approach the subject of selective bias, with the research team specifically picking children with developmental delays to be included in their analysis.
Even if the claim that autism risk is increased babies birthed by moms suffering from diabetes or obesity can still be dismissed entirely, these illnesses still affect the life of the mother and child in other ways. Because of this, these diseases should not be ignored in any way when attempting to add a new member to the family.