Researchers from UC-Davis found a mother's obesity during pregnancy increases risk of autism in children by as much as 67 percent.
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons ) BY STACEY WELSH ANCHOR LAUREN GORES A new study suggests obesity during pregnancy increases the risk of having a child with autism. TIME breaks it down . “Obese mothers were 67% more likely than mothers of normal weight and with no metabolic disorders to have a child with autism, and they were more than twice as likely to have a child with another developmental disorder.” Researchers at the UC Davis made the discovery — finding nearly half of the one thousand children participating in the study had an autism disorder. Fox News spoke with a doctor to clarify one reason why a mother’s weight during pregnancy affects the baby’s risk for autism. “DR. MARC SIEGEL: Maybe when you're obese you need to make more insulin. Insulin is inflammatory marker. In other words it causes the body to go into metabolic overdrive and may increase your risk of autism.” But as MSNBC points out , more evidence is needed to vet the link between obesity and autism. “Researchers can’t be sure yet whether diabetes or obesity are actually impacting the growth of the fetus, it’s always possible that these women have something else in common.” Researchers note that nearly 60 percent of women of childbearing age are overweight and nearly 9 percent have diabetes. ABC News spoke with an expert who says even if the link to autism is small, mothers have a lot of other reasons to maintain a healthy weight. “DR. RICHARD BESSER: It’s linked to pregnancy complications, increase of birth defects... So, It’s something you can address, but it’s probably a small piece of the Autism puzzle.” Researchers published the study in the Journal of Pediatrics. A researcher tells TIME — the question of what causes autism is still wide open.