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Autism Link to Pregnancy Weight Gain

Mom's weight gain may be a marker for autism.

A woman's weight gain during pregnancy could be linked to autism in her baby. Researchers at the University of Utah say they've uncovered an association between autism spectrum disorders  (ASD)  and a small increase in the  amount of weight an expectant mother gained.

The scientists say the findings suggests that 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 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," she said, "but rather may reflect an underlying process that it shares with autism spectrum disorders, such as abnormal hormone levels or inflammation."

The results of the new study, "Maternal Prenatal Weight Gain and Autism Spectrum Disorders," are published in November edition of the journal Pediatrics.


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