Autism may be linked to preeclampsia

Davis, CA – A new study published Monday December 8th in the online edition of the journal JAMA Pediatrics links preeclampsia to autism. The study was authored by Cheryl Walker, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine and a researcher with the UC Davis MIND Institute.

The study looked at 1,050 children whose mothers all had preeclampsia and found that 500 children were diagnosed with autism, 200 were diagnosed as developmentally delayed, and 350 were developing normally. The severity of the preeclampsia strengthened the likelihood of autism and developmental delays.

“We found significant associations between preeclampsia and ASD that increased with severity,”

Walker told CTV News. Preeclampsia usually occurs in the second half of pregnancy and it’s symptoms typically include high blood pressure.

The study also found that mothers with children who were diagnosed with autism or developmental delays mostly had placental insufficiency as well. This insufficiency is caused by a lack of oxygen and nutrients being delivered to the forming fetus.

Walker noted that while this study is larger and had stricter controls the ones done before it, it alone can’t definitively link preeclampsia and placental insufficiency to ASD and developmental delays.

Source: Andrea Janus on the CTV News website: Autism linked to preeclampsia, study suggests

Contributed by Audrey L. Hollingshead