Sure, we know that obesity comes with a myriad of negative health risks. However, we don’t always hear about how these risks can affect the unborn child of an obese mother.
A recent study published in the journal of Pediatrics set out to discover if obesity, high blood pressure, or diabetes can affect the risk of having a child with autism.
The study found that if a woman had one of these three conditions, there was an increased risk of about 60 percent.
So how does obesity or diabetes affect early brain development? One hypothesis suggests that it may be due to increased inflammation in developing tissues, while another suggests that obesity and diabetes reduces the nutrients that are able to reach the fetus.
Reuters suggests that, “Overall, the connection between diabetes in a mother and her child being diagnosed with autism was not significant, but the researchers did find links between a mother being obese or having other metabolic conditions and her child having autism.”
A 2008 statistic from the CDC states that 1 in 88 kids have an autism spectrum disorder, compared to a 2002 statistic of 1 out of 150.
Health risks associated with obesity during pregnancy not only affect the child (find out more here), but the mother as well. Studies show that obese mothers are at risk for a range of complications when compared to pregnancies of regular weight women.
WebMD lists a myriad of health risks for mothers with obesity during pregnancy including hypertension, gestational diabetes, blood clots, a higher likelihood of cesarean sections, and even higher hospital bills than their slimmer counterparts.
These studies should not drive obese women away from having a child, but rather act as motivation to slim down and lose those pounds for themselves and their families.
Obesity during pregnancy is a risk (just like drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes) and should be treated as such. Doctors should recommend simply delaying a pregnancy until the health risks are lower for both mother and child.