According to a 2014 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, gestational diabetes afflicts 9.2% of pregnant women.
Gestational diabetes is a form of the disease that occurs when a woman who was not previously diabetic develops high glucose levels during pregnancy. This can pose serious health problems to both mother and baby.
A new study suggests there may be a correlation between gestational diabetes and autism.
Gestational diabetes can be very dangerous, according to the Mayo Clinic. For the mom, it can raise her risk of developing high blood pressure and preclampsia (a serious pregnancy complication), and diabetes later in life. For the baby, it can raise the risk of excessive birth weight, pre-term birth and subsequent respiratory distress syndrome, low blood sugar, and a chance of Type 2 diabetes later in life.
In addition to the known health risks, an article published by USA Today offered an alarming statistic; it suggested that women diagnosed with gestational diabetes by the 26th week of pregnancy were 42% more likely to give birth to a child who would be diagnosed on the spectrum at some point in their lives.
While the cause of this apparent correlation has not yet been determined, researchers posit it could have to do with the detrimental effects high glucose levels have on the development of organs.
This study supports theories that autism develops prior to childbirth and can be viewed on brain scans during very early stages of life. In addition to gestational diabetes, several other complications during pregnancy have been linked to autism, including flus, infections, and insufficient folic acid.
The best thing an expectant mother can do to protect herself and her child is to seek proper medical care. Physicians can offer advice on exercise and maintaining a balanced diet to help control this manageable disease.
Watch the video below to learn more about the correlation between gestational diabetes and autism.
L.D. and her eleven-year-old lab, Eleanor Rigby Fitzgerald, moved from Seattle to Grand Rapids earlier this year, and are currently enjoying exploring their new city! She likes books, music, movies, running, and being outdoors as much as possible.