A new study suggests that women who have any form of diabetes while pregnant are at a higher risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder. This also includes women who had type 2 diabetes their entire life and those who may not have had diabetes prior to their pregnancy but did develop it while carrying their child.

The Missing Link

A research team from the Kaiser Permanente Health System in Southern California state that any type of inflammation, toxic levels of glucose, and immune system that could affect maternal diabetes can increase a child's risk of autism. The researchers examined over 400,000 children that were born between the years 1995 and 2012.

The scientists of the study found that women who have type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or gestational diabetes mellitus have a greater risk of having a child of autism. This new discovery coincides with prior research that claimed women with type 2 diabetes led to an increase in children being born with the disorder.

Two years ago, the lead researcher of this study, Dr. Anny Xian, and her team discovered that women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes before they were pregnant for 26 weeks were at a 42 percent higher chance of having a child with autism. The team did not find the same risk in women who had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes later on in their pregnancy.

In this new study, Dr. Xian and her team found that if a woman has an earlier development of diabetes while pregnant, it increases her risks for an autistic child.

"These results suggest that the severity of maternal diabetes and the timing of exposure (early vs late in pregnancy) may be associated with the risk of [autism] in offspring of diabetic mothers," the authors of the study wrote.

Diabetes In America

Diabetes is described as a chronic disease that affects how a person's body turns food into energy. According to data collected from the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention in 2017, over 100 million people in America have diabetes.

For women, having diabetes increases their risks of having a heart attack by four times. Women who are African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Latin-American are more likely to have diabetes. If a woman has diabetes and is planning on having children, it can make getting pregnant more difficult and puts a woman at risk for preeclampsia or worst, a miscarriage.

The study also found that mothers who had type 1 diabetes were at a double risk developing autism within the first seven years of their lives than those who mothers were non-diabetic.

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