Could Diabetes Be Linked To An Autism diagnosis?

diabetes and autism

Scientists are now noticing a link between mothers who develop diabetes early in their pregnancy, and the diagnosis of autism in their child. Diabetes may play a role in interfering with a critical span of time in which the fetus undergoes brain development.

Researchers examined over 322,000 medical records of children born in Southern California between the years of 1995 and 2010. Mothers who were susceptible to diabetes by their 26th week of pregnancy were nearly fifty percent more likely to have their child diagnosed with autism compared to those who did not. The link between blood-sugar levels and development of autism had previously been unexplored.

Reasons behind this discovery are unknown, but it is possible that increased blood sugar levels from the mother may prevent brain growth in the fetus. This is particular in the areas of the brain designed to control communication and behavior in social situations.

But what about gestational diabetes versus pre-existing questions? This is not proof, merely another link in determining the causes of fetal autism. Smoking, weight gain, and body mass index – among many other factors – have all been ruled out as role-players. Many other factors remain.

More information is needed to determine whether or not treating gestational diabetes during pregnancy can reduce this increased risk. So what can pregnant women do right now? It’s a good idea to plan your prenatal visits and get screened for diabetes.

Written by Kathleen OToole, University of Maine

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