Autism & Obesity Link Should Make Women Rethink Diet

pregnantFrom vaccines to toxins in the environment, the cause of autism has been the subject of research for years, especially in recent times as rates have drastically risen and one in every 88 children is now said to have some form of the disease. Increasingly, however, research is pointing to what happens during a woman's pregnancy as a potential primary cause.

A new study released this weekend found a strong link between obesity in early pregnancy and autism. In fact, researchers found obese women were 67 percent more likely to have a child with autism than those who weren't obese. Their children were also found to have double the risk for other developmental delays. That's a major difference, but with rising rates of obesity and autism in this country, it also makes sense.

The study, which involved about 1,000 children, isn't conclusive by any means, but it certainly adds to the existing research that shows a link between obesity in women and other risks for their babies, such as stillbirth and pre-term births. Why the link? Scientists aren't sure, but they believe it could have something to do with inflammatory proteins in the fat cells of an obese mother.

Researcher Paula Krakowiak told MSNBC:

These same proteins are involved in the normal development of the brain. When the level of those immunological markers is higher or lower than the normal range it might affect how the brain develops in an adverse way. And at least one type has been shown to be able to cross over the placenta to the fetus.

When they’re growing at a faster rate, they require more oxygen and if the mom doesn’t provide enough oxygen then that could also cause some problems with brain development.

While I can only imagine the guilt overweight parents of autistic children may feel when reading this news, it's also filled with hope because if these findings are indeed accurate, then that means there may potentially be a way to prevent autism in some cases. Of course, obesity isn't the only cause as we all know plenty of thin people with autistic children, but it is an interesting link for sure and yet another reason women should do everything they can to maintain a healthy weight before getting pregnant. Wouldn't it be amazing if, as a nation, we could really diet our way to a decrease in autism?

Are you surprised to learn about this link between obesity and autism?


Image via one tiny spark/Flickr

baby prep, eating for two, pregnancy health, autism


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angev... angevil53

i'm not surprised about the link between brain development and oxygen. i think "purple pushing" has so much to do with this now, too. both times i had my children in a hospital they told me several times to hold my breath while THEY counted. no, i don't think so...i will push until MY BODY tells me to stop and take a breath not until you tell me it's time to take a breath. you are taking precious oxygen away from your body, brain, and baby while doing that. it's not safe. it's like holding your breath while you go running, like that is going to work out for you.

nonmember avatar bootness

I think the important thing to understand is this study shows that autism and obesity are CORRELATED; not that one causes the other. I believe that environmental factors such as BPA, pesticides, GMO corn, etc. all have vast effects on both obesity (they mimic human hormones) and therefore on autism rates. Just the levels of hormone like substances in the water are causing deformities in fish and frogs. What are they doing to us, to our fetuses? I think it's unfair to put the guilt for autism on overweight moms without knowing more about why and how this is happening.

buffa... buffalove23

Honestly I think this makes perfect sense. Besides the actual weight issues, someone who is in the obese is most likely putting more processed food in their body. Not a overall generalization...just going with the average obese American.

nonmember avatar Pete

We now have millions of kids in this country who have never recieved a single vaccine. I would love to see a simple study done to see if the autism rate is 1:88 in these kids. Don't ell me this has already been done. It hasn't. Most of the studies have benn done in Denmark where the vaccination schedule is totally different.

mande... manderspanders

Great.  As a large woman, I already face discrimination and ugly looks daily (although I do maintain my appearance and dress professionally.... and work out and watch my intake to be my healthiest)... I was already dreading becoming pregnant while "obese" as it is - since ya know, obese women *are* treated differently (I want to be treated like any other pregnant woman and not looked at as an obese woman complicated by pregnancy)... and this is going to make it even worse. 

Obesity is one of the last ways that people can be legally discriminated against and ARE bullied on a regular basis.   People will ignore that this study only shows a correlation and not causation; and use it as further basis to treat us as less than human and to take away our dignity.

Interestingly enough, all the women I know who have autistic children are average or skinny.

PonyC... PonyChaser

Last week, it was the "fault" of older fathers.A year before that, it was vaccinations. How about they stop advertising every little study and keep their mouths shut until they find something conclusive and substative? Something that actually has proof, instead of saying this "might" cause it or that "might" be involved? All this is doing is trashing some people and giving false hope to others.

Suann Landi Ebeling

All the government is doing now is blaming the Mothers for everything.  Don't you think the parents have enough to worry about, taking care and dealing with this.  Stop the blaming and figure out how to fix it!!!   This week its wight, last week it was older fathers, next week it will be something else.  Stop wasting the money on why and spent it on a cure!


Valrie Wyatt

Please listen to me. This makes sense with what I have been telling people. I believe the ingredients and processing in processed foods (which when eaten in abundance make one gain wait) are deteriorating our chromosomes. Those that effect ones ability to remove toxins from the system to be exact. Our bodies are so accustomed to being full of toxins, that we are passing on to our children the inability to naturally excrete toxins. Thus their systems become inflamed and the "signs" of autism become apparent. I do not 100% blame shots. There are toxins in just about everything. In Amarillo, TX we are drinking our own pee, that has been run through some processing to make it "safe". There are toxins in processed foods, pesticides (of course), and even in our air in some places. Those who are neurotypical still have the ability to slough off enough of the toxins to function typically, while the toxins just build up in a person with Autism's system.

Think it through. It makes sense with the studies that have been done.

nonmember avatar M. Marcos

Before I was pregnant, I was 110 lbs. and gain the normal weight during my pregnancy. I ate healthy lots of fruits and vegetables. Drank lots of water. Hardly any sweets or junk food. But my son was born with a form if autism. His 14 yrs. old now. I just had my 4th child 17 mos. ago and during my pregnancy with him I was over my normal weight for my height and god bless he shows no signs if being autistic. So my question is: Why was is when I was thinner my oldest son was born with autism then when I was bigger with my youngest son?

Ashlee Parsons

I was underweight before and during the first part of my pregnancy. My doctor told me I needed to gain 25 lbs to be a healthy normal weight. This does not explain my son's autism.

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