Pregnancy complications linked to higher risk of autism

gestational diabetes autism risk
Gestational diabetes. Image credit: Shutterstock

High blood pressure or abnormal bleeding during pregnancy, as well as complications such as cesarean delivery or preterm birth, may all increase the risk of autism, two new studies suggest. And the more difficulties during pregnancy and delivery, the more severe the autism features in the child, according to one of the studies.

[Researcher Susan Shur-Fen] Gau and her team recruited 323 autistic children with an average age of 10, and 257 of their siblings, from two medical centers in Northern Taiwan. They also included 1,504 controls, age 8 on average, from local schools and the community.

The team asked the children’s mothers whether they experienced any of 10 complications during pregnancy or delivery such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal bleeding and low birth weight. For about 15 percent of the mothers, the researchers were able to verify the answers with medical records.

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About 22 percent of the mothers of autistic children experienced abnormal bleeding compared with 9 percent of mothers of neurotypical children, the researchers found. A larger proportion of mothers of autistic children also had preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) and cesarean delivery compared with the controls.

However, it is unclear what that connection is, Gau says. “The specific mechanisms definitely need to be studied,” she says.

Read full, original post: Complications during pregnancy may contribute to autism risk

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