Poor Health in Pregnancy Linked to Delays
Using data from a continuing case-control study of children in California, researchers found that compared with healthy women with a body mass index under 25, children of obese mothers or those with diabetes had more than double the risk of impairments in language, motor and social skills, and a more than 50 percent greater risk of autism. Hypertension was linked to an increased risk of developmental disorders, but only in combination with diabetes and obesity.
The study, which controlled for race, ethnicity, education and other factors, included 517 children with autism, 172 with developmental delays and 415 healthy controls. The report appears in the May issue of Pediatrics.
“The individual contribution of each condition was not clear, but “most of these women were obese, which seemed to drive the overall findings,” said the senior author, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, a professor of epidemiology at the MIND Institute of the University of California, Davis.
“We don’t know that this is causal,” Dr. Hertz-Picciotto said. But she added: “All three of these conditions contribute to insulin resistance and chronic inflammation. The brain has to go through some very finely orchestrated developmental changes throughout gestation, and it is plausible that these kinds of processes are affected by inflammation.”
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR