Washington: Researchers have uncovered an association between autism spectrum disorders and a small increase in the amount of weight a mother gains during pregnancy.
The study from the University of Utah has identified an association between autism spectrum disorder risk and prenatal weight gain, after accounting for important related factors such as a woman's pre-pregnancy 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," Deborah A. Bilder, M.D., lead author of the study said.
This small difference in pregnancy weight gain and the association with autism spectrum disorders (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.
Researchers also examined a second sample group of 288 Utah children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and compared their data with that of unaffected siblings.
In both scenarios, pregnancy weight gain patterns obtained from birth certificate records were identified as common factors in mothers who gave birth to children born with autism spectrum disorders.
The finding suggested that these small changes in pregnancy weight gain and ASD may share the same underlying cause. The mother's BMI at the onset of pregnancy was not linked to ASD in either study group.
The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.