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Why some children of mothers with diabetes have autism, researchers find

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A new study published in JAMA found that the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was increased in children of mothers with the three main types of diabetes that complicate pregnancy, findings that add new information on type 1 diabetes and extend what is already known about type 2 and gestational diabetes.

Maternal preexisting type 2 diabetes (T2D) and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) diagnosed by 26 weeks have been associated with increased risk of ASD in children in prior research. Less is known about ASD risk associated with maternal preexisting type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Maternal T1D, T2D and GDM (exposures); diagnosis in children of ASD, which includes autistic disorders, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (outcomes)

This was an observational study. Researchers were not intervening for purposes of the study and cannot control all the natural differences that could explain the study findings.The authors include: Anny H. Xiang, Ph.D., Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena, California, and coauthors

The results show risk of ASD was higher in children exposed in utero to maternal preexisting T1D, T2D and gestational diabetes diagnosed by 26 weeks compared with no maternal diabetes exposure. However, risk factors of the father, along with other intrauterine and postnatal exposures, couldn’t be assessed.The results suggest the severity of maternal diabetes and the timing of exposure (early vs. late in pregnancy) may be associated with the risk of ASD in children of mothers with diabetes.


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