MONDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- Children born to obese or very overweight mothers are at higher risk of having autism or developmental delays, new research suggests.
The study of more than 1,000 children found that the offspring of obese mothers had a 67 percent higher risk of autism than the children of normal-weight moms, and more than double the risk of having developmental delays, such as language impairment.
"The odds of autism and other developmental delays were significantly higher in the children of moms who were obese versus those who weren't," said lead study author Paula Krakowiak, a biostatistician and doctoral candidate at the University of California, Davis.
The research included more than 500 children aged 2 to 5 with mild to severe autism, about 170 children with another type of developmental disability, and 315 typically developing children, all taking part in the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment, conducted between 2003 and 2010.
Children were assessed by experts from the university's MIND Institute to confirm their autism diagnosis, while mothers were interviewed about various aspects of their health before and during pregnancy. Information about weight came from either medical records or mothers' recollections of their weight before and during pregnancy.
Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 and up. Body mass index, or BMI, is a measure of body size based on height and weight.
While diabetes was also associated with increased odds of developmental delays in offspring, there wasn't a statistically significant association between diabetes and autism.
The research is in the May issue of Pediatics, published online April 9.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which children have difficulties with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication such as reading facial expr
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