Obesity can be the source of many health problems, but according to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, it can also affect children indirectly. Researchers say that they have found a possible link between mothers with metabolic problems and children with autism.

For the study, researchers looked at 1,004 children between two and five years of age who were born in California. Among these children, 517 had an autism spectrum disorder and 172 had developmental delays.

Of those who had an autism spectrum disorder, 48 were born to mothers with type 2 gestational diabetes, 111 to mothers who were obese, and 148 to mothers who had other types of metabolic conditions. The strongest connection lies in mothers who were obese.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 88 children in the US has an autism spectrum disorder--a 25 percent increase from the numbers given in their 2006 report. However, researchers say that the growing obesity rates can’t be directly held responsible for the increased autism.

The study, though enlightening, still needs further review. In the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt for those trying for a baby to address any metabolic conditions they might have beforehand. "If there is anything you can do to make yourself healthier, this is yet another reason for moms to consider," says Paula Krakowiak, lead study author and researcher at the University of California-Davis.


(Photo by fling93 via Flickr Creative Commons)

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