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Autism Res. 2016 Aug;9(8):829-37. doi: 10.1002/aur.1586. Epub 2016 Jan 29.

Maternal metabolic risk factors for autism spectrum disorder-An analysis of electronic medical records and linked birth data.

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Division of Biomedical Informatics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio.


Past studies have suggested that conditions experienced by women during pregnancy (e.g. obesity and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)) may be associated with having a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Our objective was to compare mothers who had a child diagnosed with ASD to mothers of children with a non-ASD developmental disorder (DD) or without any reported DD (controls). To accomplish the objective we collected medical record data from patients who resided in the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center's (CCHMC) primary catchment area and linked those data to data from birth certificates (to identify risk factors). Two comparison groups were analyzed; one with DD; and the other, controls without a reported ASD or DD. Descriptive statistics and regression analyses evaluated differences. Differences were greater comparing mothers of ASD to controls than comparing ASD to DD. Maternal obesity and GDM were associated with a statistically significant approximately 1.5-fold increased odds of having a child with an ASD. For mothers with both GDM and obesity, the association was twofold for having a child with ASD compared with controls. Maternal obesity and GDM might be associated with an increased risk of ASD in the offspring; however, no difference in risk of ASD according to BMI and GDM was seen when comparing to DD. Autism Res 2016, 9: 829-837,.


autism; electronic medical records; epidemiology; gestational diabetes mellitus; obesity

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