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Study Finds Autism Could Be Linked To Obesity During Pregnancy

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(File Photo: LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

(File Photo: LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

Marissa Bailey (CBS) Marissa Bailey
Marissa Bailey is the weekend anchor of the CBS 2 Chicago morning...
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(CBS) – A new study out today raises some serious concerns about unborn babies and the potential for autism.

CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports the results of the study – conducted by researchers at the MIND Institute at the University of California Davis – are among the first linking obesity and autism.

Although there was no proof that obesity causes autism, researchers found a possible link between obesity in pregnant women, diabetes, and autism. The numbers are quite telling.

Researchers looked at 1,000 mothers and their children, and found that moms who were obese during pregnancy were 67 percent more likely to have a child with autism, compared to women who were considered to be a normal weight.

Researchers said up-and-down sugar levels during pregnancy might affect the unborn baby.

UC Davis professor Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto said, “There’s a general feeling that some of the origins of autism are probably in the prenatal period, when the brain is developing at a very rapid rate.”

It’s not just obesity that researchers say might affect an unborn baby. Results show mothers with diabetes during pregnancy also increase the chance of their child developing a form of autism.

The numbers show they are more than twice as likely to have a child with developmental delays, and low scores on language and communication tests.

Still, the findings are significant.

“If this does turn out to be a causal relationship, that there are actions that people can actually take, and that’s the point, is we’re trying to find modifiable factors – which, by and large, genetics is not,” Hertz-Picciotto said.

Doctors said the study does not prove that obesity and diabetes cause autism, but the findings are considered alarming.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimate one in 88 children have autism in the U.S. More than one-third of American women in their childbearing years are considered obese.

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