Obese mothers are 65% more likely to have children with AUTISM, shocking study reveals

Children born to mothers who had a larger waist size before pregnancy are more likely to have autism, a shocking new study has revealed.

Researchers from Northwestern University made the shocking discovery in a study that will be presented today.

Dr Geum Joon Cho, who led the study, said: “Children born to mothers with a waist of 80 centimetres (31.5 inches) or more before pregnancy showed a 65 per cent increase in the risk of autism than those born to a mother with a smaller waist.

“It is assumed there are multiple factors that cause autism, both inherited and environmental.

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Maternal obesity was found to increase the odds of autism by 65 per cent (file photo) (Image: iStockphoto)

“Of the environmental risk factors, emerging evidence has linked maternal pre-pregnancy obesity to the risk of autism in offspring.

“However, other studies have reported no associations between the two conditions. We wanted to investigate this association further.”

Previous studies that looked at the link between a mother’s obesity and her child’s autism used body mass index (BMI) as an indication of body fat mass.

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In the study, the researchers reviewed data for 36,451 mothers who delivered a child between 2007 and 2008 (file photo) (Image: iStockphoto)

But Dr Cho said: “BMI is based on weight and does not differentiate between fat mass and lean mass.”

Instead, the researchers used waist circumference as a measure – body fat stored within the abdominal cavity.

In the study, the researchers reviewed data for 36,451 mothers who delivered a child between 2007 and 2008 and underwent a National Health Screening Examination within one year of their pregnancy.

The babies were followed up, and it was found that 265 (0.76 per cent) were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Maternal obesity was found to increase the odds of autism by 65 per cent.

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The researchers believe that inflammation may play a key role in the link between obesity and autism.

Dr Cho added: “Both intrauterine inflammation and fetal brain inflammation are implicated in the development of autism.

“As obesity increases, circulating immune system proteins called inflammatory cytokines in pregnant women and the inflammation associated with maternal obesity may be related to the development of autism.

“Waist circumference, as a measure of central obesity, is associated with an increase in inflammatory cytokines, which is known to be involved in the development of autism.”

The researchers hope their findings will encourage doctors to monitor for maternal obesity in the future.

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