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New study examines link between pregnancy weight gain, autism spectrum disorders
Date:10/27/2013

Can gaining weight during pregnancy provide clues into the cause of autism spectrum disorders?

New research from the University of Utah shows the answer to that question may be yes in some situations. Researchers have uncovered an association between autism spectrum disorders and a small increase in the amount of weight a mother gains during pregnancy. The results of the new study, "Maternal Prenatal Weight Gain and Autism Spectrum Disorders," are published in November edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Previous studies have identified links between women's prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) and pregnancy weight gain to an increased risk for the development of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children. But in the new study from University of Utah, researchers build on prior research by identifying an association between autism spectrum disorder risk and prenatal weight gain, after accounting for important related factors such as a woman's prepregnancy BMI.

"The risk of autism spectrum disorder associated with a modest yet consistent increase in pregnancy weight gain suggests that pregnancy weight gain may serve as an important marker for autism's underlying gestational etiology," said Deborah A. Bilder, M.D., lead author of the study and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah. "These findings suggest that weight gain during pregnancy is not the cause of ASD but rather may reflect an underlying process that it shares with autism spectrum disorders, such as abnormal hormone levels or inflammation. ."

This small difference in pregnancy weight gain and the association with ASD was found in two separate study groups. Researchers carried out the study by comparing the cases of 8-year-olds living in Salt Lake, Davis and Utah counties. A group of 128 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders were compared to a control group of 10,920 children of the same age and gender. Researcher
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Contact: Melinda Rogers
melinda.rogers@hsc.utah.edu
801-608-9888
University of Utah Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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