New research has drawn a direct link between obese mothers and autistic babies, finding that overweight pregnant women have a startling 67% higher chance of having an autistic child than those who are not. In the study, the researchers note that the extreme prevalency of obesity in the United States is serious cause for alarm, as autism rates continue to skyrocket.
Conducted between January 2003 and June 2010, scientists observed 1,000 California children between the ages of 2 and 5. With more than two-thirds of the study population being diagnosed with either autism or developmental delays, the researchers reached some shocking statistical conclusions. When compared with the average women, who has a reported 1 in 88 chance of having an autistic child, obese mothers have a whopping 1 in 53 chance. On a large scale, especially when considering the explosive obesity epidemic, that is a major difference.
One question the researchers did not ask, however, is whether or not the dietary and lifestyle factors that contribute to obesity are actually to blame — not just the excess fat itself. Common chemicals and contaminants like BPA and cadmium have previously been linked to birth disorders and even infertility, raising serious concerns over the consumption of these toxic substances. Cadmium exposure, for example, can be a result of cigarette smoking. Obese mothers are most likely partaking in many poor food choices and consuming large amounts of processed foods which contain mercury, aspartame, high-fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated fats.
Autism researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto from the University of California explains that mothers planning a pregnancy should take a serious look at their lives and begin transforming them in order to help protect the health of their future children:
“If you are planning a pregnancy you might want to think about losing weight, getting your exercise routine in order and controlling your blood sugar,” said the researcher.
Obesity has not only been linked to the development of autism, but a number of other pregnancy-related disorders. Previous studies have discovered obesity to increase the risk of stillbirths, preterm births, and birth defects.
Other studies have linked obesity during pregnancy with increased risks of stillbirths, preterm births and birth defects.