Is the current obesity epidemic contributing the rise in the number of children diagnosed with autism? According to a new study by the University of California, Davis and Vanderbilt University, the answer is “yes.”
Researchers believe that about half the risk of autism is genetic and half is a result of other, external factors. This latest study finds that mothers who are obese are significantly more likely to have a child with autism or another developmental abnormality.
The study involved more than 1,000 children as well as their mother’s health history. They found that those mothers who were obese before pregnancy had a 60 percent increase in the likelihood of having a child with autism, and double the risk of having a child with another type of cognitive delay.
These findings are alarming, and very encouraging at the same time. In the vast majority of cases, obesity is largely a result of poor lifestyle choices, and this means that it is preventable. This means that the potential mothers have obesity within their control. By paying close attention to their eating habits and addressing obesity head on, potential mothers can drastically lower the chance of their children being diagnosed with autism.
Together, both genetic and early environmental factors are under investigation, but the vast majority of what we know suggests that the period of highest risk for autism is in the womb. This makes the mother’s overall health, both prior to and during pregnancy, is a contributing factor.
Women should, of course, consult with their doctor prior to making any significant change in their diet, especially if they are either pregnant or trying to become pregnant. But one thing seems sure, potential mothers that suffer from obesity owe it to their children to take control of their eating and their health as soon as possible.
Remember, healthy choices each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?
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