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Obesity and diabetes may be linked to autism

Category: Diabetes

Unhealthy blood tests for glucose levels among pregnant women may be linked to an increased risk of delivering a child who has autism or other developmental delays, according to a new study out of the University of California, Davis.

The researchers said their findings could represent a major public health issue. About 60 percent of women of childbearing age are overweight or obese, which is often accompanied by high blood sugar. Furthermore, about 16 percent have metabolic syndrome. The situation could potentially put many children at risk for developmental delays.

For the study, the team analyzed the medical records of more than 1,000 mother-child pairs. The results showed that when a woman was obese at the time of delivery, her child was about 66 percent more likely to eventually be diagnosed with autism. Children of diabetics had more than double the risk of being born with some type of developmental delay.

The findings may help explain why autism rates have been increasing in recent years, the researchers said. The rise in autism has largely been mirrored by growing obesity and diabetes rates.

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