Maternal Disorders During Pregnancy Can Increase the Risk of Autism with Gastrointestinal Disturbances in Offspring

October 10, 2022

Obesity, Diabetes, Preeclampsia, and Asthma in Mothers Linked to Both Conditions

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente Southern California and scientists from the University of Southern California recently assessed associations between maternal obesity, diabetes, preeclampsia, and asthma during pregnancy with the likelihood of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and gastrointestinal disturbances (GIDs) in offspring. Previous studies demonstrated that these maternal conditions were associated with an increased risk of ASD. However, very little research has been conducted examining the likelihood of developing autism and co-occurring conditions like GIDs. This current retrospective study included 308,536 mother-child pairs of singletons born between 2001 and 2014. Information on social demographics, maternal health conditions during pregnancy, and the child’s ASD and/or GIDs diagnosis by age five were obtained from electronic medical records. The research classified the children’s outcomes in four ways: no ASD no GIDs, no ASD with GIDs, ASD no GIDs, and ASD with GIDs. After analyzing the data, the researchers discovered that compared to children with neither disorder, each maternal condition was associated with higher odds of no ASD with GIDs, ASD no GIDs, and ASD with GIDs. Association was greatest for likelihood of ASD with GIDs (Maternal obesity odds ratio (95% confidence interval): 1.37 (1.22–1.54); Diabetes: 1.50 (1.28–1.76); Preeclampsia: 1.63 (1.36–1.95); Asthma: 1.39 (1.17–1.67); relative to no ASD no GIDs). This research concluded that maternal obesity, diabetes, preeclampsia, and asthma exposure during pregnancy might increase the likelihood of both GIDs and ASD with or without co-occurring GIDs in offspring. The authors call for future studies to assess the association between different exposures and autism with other co-occurring conditions to increase the understanding of variabilities found within ASD.

Original Study Abstract

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