You already know that your health and diet during pregnancy will directly affect your baby's health. But a new study is giving expecting mothers even more incentive to improve their prenatal health, linking a woman's health during pregnancy to her child's future risk for autism and developmental delays.
The study, from researchers at University of California, Davis's MIND (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute found that a pregnant woman with diabetes, hypertension or obesity during pregnancy may increase her child’s risk of autism and developmental problems later in life.
Researchers used data from a continuing case-control study of children in California to compare the children of healthy pregnant women with a body mass index under 25 to those whose mothers were obese or had diabetes during pregnancy. Their results, published in this month's Pediatrics, found that the children of obese or diabetic mothers had more than double the risk of impairments in language, motor and social skills, and a more than 50 percent greater risk of autism. When combined with diabetes and obesity, hypertension during pregnancy also increased the risk of these developmental disorders.
The UC Davis study controlled for race, ethnicity, education and other factors and included 517 children with autism, 172 with developmental delays and 415 healthy controls.