Autism Linked to Maternal Obesity, Studies Show - My Bariatric Life

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • What is Autism?


    Autism is a developmental disorder that presents during the first three years of an individual’s life. It is a neurological disorder that effects brain function and a person’s communication and social interaction abilities. It is a wide-spectrum disorder, meaning that no two people will have the exact same symptoms. Those who have autism have difficulty with non-verbal communication, a broad variety of social interactions, and activities involving play.

    People who have less severe symptoms of autism present as socially clumsy, can be offensive with their comments, and generally misaligned with others. Those with more severe symptoms may not be interested in other people at all.

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    People with autism have difficulty with empathy and understanding how another person feels. Many also prefer to not be touched or cuddled as would the average child.

    The greater the severity of the illness, the more it affects a person’s speaking
    skills. Autistic people often repeat words or terms that they hear, and their desire for predictability promotes repetitive behaviors.

    Women normally have a 1 in 88 chance of giving birth to an autistic child, but a recently published study suggest that women who are obese during pregnancy increased the possibility to 1 in 53.

    Autism Linked to Obesity During Pregnancy

    While the study shows that women who are obese during pregnancy have a 67% greater chance of giving birth to an autistic child than women who are not obese during pregnancy, the conclusion has not established cause. The results do not prove that obese pregnancy causes autism although it does show a meaningful correlation between the two. The study also showed that women who were obese during pregnancy double the risk of giving birth to children who will have other developmental delays.

    It has also been shown that the rate of autism increases along with the rate of obesity. Whereas one in three women in the United States of child-bearing age are obese, there is cause for concern.

    Blood Sugar and Inflammation as Risk Factors

    Obesity is linked with inflammation and elevated blood sugar. Too much blood sugar and inflammation-related substances in the mother’s blood might reach the fetus and damage the still developing brain.

    At this point, researchers can only speculate about a biological mechanism that links maternal obesity with the risk of autism. High blood sugar and high blood levels in gestating mother’s should be considered possible triggers although not definitive ones.

    One theory sites insulin resistance as a potential factor. Should a person become resistant to the effects of insulin, the pancreas will secrete more to control blood sugar levels. If not enough insulin is produced, blood sugar rises.

    Prenatal Care and Autism Risk

    It is believed that prenatal factors play an important role in the risk for autism and that the mother’s condition can affect the infant. Aggressive lifestyle changes are seen as possible deterrents to autism or developmental delays. Improving maternal health during pregnancy promotes better outcomes for both the mother and the child.

  • References:

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    My Story... 

    You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003, and since that time my journey from processed food junkie to healthy living so as to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management. Whether you are planning or have had bariatric surgery, or you want to lose weight through non-surgical means, my shareposts along the way will help you to navigate your journey successfully.

Published On: September 22, 2012