Clues to autism from new study of prenatal weight gain

weight-gainSalt Lake City, USA  — New research from the University of Utah shows a link between weight gain before and during pregnancy and autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Deborah A. Bilder, M.D., lead author of the study and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah says,

“These findings suggest that weight gain during pregnancy is not the cause of ASD but rather may reflect an underlying process that it shares with autism spectrum disorders, such as abnormal hormone levels or inflammation.”

Bilder continues,

“The findings in this study are important because they provide clues to what may increase the risk of having an autism spectrum disorder and provide a specific direction for researchers to pursue as they search for the causes for autism spectrum disorders.

“Doctors have known for a long time that proper nutrition is essential to a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women should not change their diets based on these results. Rather, this study provides one more piece of the autism puzzle that researchers are exploring.

“This calls for further investigation of its underlying etiology as a public health concern.”

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