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April 9th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Mom's weight may be risk factor for autism

A mother's weight and diabetic condition may increase the risk of her unborn child developing a neurodevelopmental disorder, such as autism, according to a new study published in this week's journal Pediatrics.

Researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute in California found that mothers-to-be who were obese were 67% more likely to have a child with autism as opposed to normal-weight mothers without diabetes or hypertension.

And a pregnant woman who is obese doubles her child's risk of having another developmental disorder (poor communication skills, lack of attention) compared to a child born to a mother at healthy weight.

The study included 1,004 mother-and-child pairs who were enrolled in the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment Study (CHARGE). Most of the families were from Northern California, with a small group living in Los Angeles.

The children were between 24 and 60 months old; 517 children had autism; 172 with other developmental disorders; and 315 were developing normally. The participants were enrolled between January 2003 and June 2010.

When it came to women with diabetes, researchers discovered they had more than two times the chance of having a child with developmental delays as opposed to those without diabetes.

"I was surprised at how strong the obesity effect was on new-born children and their cognitive development," said Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of Epidemiology and a researcher at the MIND Institute . "And we didn't just look at weight," she continued. "We looked at diabetes, and hypertension in mothers to see how those conditions affected their children. It was pretty significant."

The study also found that children with autism who were born to diabetic mothers had greater deficits in communication skills than the children with autism born to healthy mothers. Yet, many children who were not diagnosed with autism, but had diabetic mothers, also showed some signs of socialization problems as well as poor communication skills, compared to the non-autistic children of healthy women.

"Over a third of U.S. women in their childbearing years are obese and nearly one-tenth have gestational or type 2 diabetes during pregnancy," said Paula Krakowiak, a biostatician with the MIND Institute. "Our finding that these maternal conditions may be linked with neurodevelopment problems in children raises concerns and therefore may have serious public-health implications."

For more than a decade researchers have been looking for a genetic cause for autism. But new research suggests multiple genetic mutations make a child susceptible for the disorder.

In recent years, scientists have also been looking for environmental triggers that push these genetically susceptible children over the edge. As the search for these triggers continues, this research seems to suggest obesity may be one of those triggers in some cases.

Its authors say this is the first study to examine associations between neurodevelopmental disorders and maternal metabolic conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60% of U.S. women of childbearing age are overweight, 34% are obese, and 16% have metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes.

Nearly 9% of U.S.women of childbearing age are diabetic, and more than 1% of U.S. pregnancies are complicated because the mother has high blood pressure.

Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes and hypertension and can increase insulin resistance and inflammation in the body. Study authors suggest in women with diabetes, unregulated sugar in the body can result in prolonged fetal exposure to high glucose levels which doctors say can affect brain development in unborn children.

"The fetus depends on the mother for nutrients," noted Dr. Hertz-Picciotto. "So at certain times in the fetal development if sugar levels or other nutrients are too high or too low, the imbalance can affect the fetus, especially when it comes to the brain."

But Hertz-Picciotto said there was good news from this study.

"The best thing about this is a lot of this can be modified," she said. "If you are thinking about getting pregnant, watch your weight and if you have diabetes have your doctor keep a close eye on you so you keep your glucose under control while you're carrying your baby."


soundoff (380 Responses)
  1. Science Tutor

    Some things to remember about SCIENCE (which a bunch of posters here seem ignorant about), and how to avoid the myopia of ones own experience.:

    1. Autism already existed before vaccines and before the current rates of US obesity/diabetes. However, rates are skyrocketing in the US and some affluent regions, and it's not just due to more awareness and ID of autistic children. SO there must be some exacerbating factors.

    2. Even if either of those conditions increase likelihood of autism, no scientist (in this study or any other) has claimed to have found a SOLE cause – so anyone who reports that "I / someone I know was not fat nor diabetic and we had autistic children" that is consistent with the science shown here – this study shows INCREASES in autism incidences due to certain factors. And vis a vis over a thousand mothers in this study and the MILLIONS of mothers included in the national incidence stats, the experience of you and the five people you know is not a valid counter-argument, scientifically speaking. Sorry, you're just not representative of all mothers, and we know there are countless variations.

    3. The fact that this study was done in N Carolina does not mean it is hogwash (some poster said it could be the N Carolina water, or anything else). The incidence of autism in this region has similar rates of autism to the rest of the nation, and the study showed a clear correlation between weight / diabetes and increase autism rates. This is VERY well supported by the data, and although there may be other factors to root out, this study is quite compelling in scientific terms as far as these two influencing factors.

    4. This is key: This study is NOT saying that fat people have autistic kids and skinny ones don't. If you have any grasp of what science is, how these studies are conducted, and what the results say, you understand this; please do not muddy the waters of a scientific discovery (that yes, should be tested more) with your own experience; science agrees with you that some skinny non-diabetic moms may have autistic children.

    5. And here's the bottom line: We all know obesity and diabetes are (a) bad for you and (b) growing concerns in the American healthcare world. We now have a study showing YET ANOTHER bad thing that MAY result from these conditions, which are often unavoidable. Reducing obesity and diabetes were already good ideas (that, among other things, would save the US $billions in HC costs!)

    There may yet come a day when a link is shown between vaccines and autism, but at the moment it seems to be a fairly settled question among scientists – no link has been shown whatsoever. (I personally believe the studies that have eliminated that possibility will continue to be upheld by any additional studies, and it is amazing to read how many people are still following that rabbit hole. PLEASE VACCINATE YOUR KIDS PEOPLE! For that matter, as callous as this sounds, I'd rather live with the increase in autism we see today, sad and painful as it is for kids and parents alike, than to live in the world of rubella, whooping cough, smallpox, measles, etc. that killed millions of children each year before vaccines, even if such a link to autism WERE to be found!!)

    I know people who understand and believe the science on climate change and decry its detractors for misunderstanding science, yet they ignore the science on autism and vaccines. Yes, even with global warming, it will snow in Houston once in a while, and yes, skinny girls may have autistic babies, vaccines or no. That is a fact. But now we know obesity MAY contribute, and why would we not consider this a breakthrough?

    April 9, 2012 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PAPilot

      Don't forget that correlation is not causation, and that the Mom's weight correlates with the incidence of autism does not mean that Mom's obesity causes autism.

      There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:27 | Report abuse |
    • Science Tutor

      PAPilot, you are correct in a theoretical, philosophical sense...but how long do you keep your head in the sand? ALL science is correlation and consistency, and maybe it takes a leap of faith, but without assuming that significant correlation implies potential causality, we would not have medicine/healthcare, technology, etc.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:33 | Report abuse |
    • @askanepi

      Well stated Mr. Tutor. This gestational weight gain-autism study lends to the multiple causation models of modern medicine and public health research. And indeed correlation is not causation, but this helps shed light on another potential risk factor.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
    • Pediatrician

      Very well stated. Thank You.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:44 | Report abuse |
    • JustJ

      Well done, Science Tutor. Well done.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:00 | Report abuse |
    • Lars Babaganoosh

      Now that's a fat post. I got autism just reading it it was that fat.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:04 | Report abuse |
    • Science Tutor

      Just thought I'd throw in this great quote from the Dean of Science Tutors:

      "One of the biggest problems in the world today is that we have large groups of people who will accept whatever they hear on the grapevine, just because it suits their world-view – not because it is actually true or because they have evidence that supports it. The really striking thing is that it would not take much effort to establish validity in most of these cases.........but people prefer reassurance to research." - Neil Degrasse Tyson.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse |
    • bblswr

      Very nicely put science tutor. Thanks.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:09 | Report abuse |
    • mary

      study was done in northern california, which is different from north carolina. check the map.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:25 | Report abuse |
    • Science Tutor

      Yes, sorry, norern cal. My bad, I humbly admit. Doesn't change a whit of my message fundamentaly though.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:28 | Report abuse |
    • hoya12

      "Most of the families were from Northern California, with a small group living in Los Angeles."

      May be good at science; not so good at geography. California, not Carolina ST.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:33 | Report abuse |
    • daniel north

      How about the sonegrams pregnant women are getting every month of their pregnancy. Sonic waves can cause a lot of
      movement, so maybe the brain is getting shook up every time a sonegram is given. Wonder if science is checking out
      that theory.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
    • Science Tutor

      I love that people find a single chink, like me writing the wrong state (yes, i quickly looked back at the article after a few reads to double check the state and somehow still wrote it wrong) and write as if it reduces my entire post to discardable. Very weak counterpoints, my friends.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:41 | Report abuse |
    • patman

      in the 80's children received 12 vaccinations before age 4..in 2000 they receive 34..but that doesnt have anything to do with autism....

      April 9, 2012 at 11:43 | Report abuse |
    • blahb31

      This statistics PhD is applauding right now. That was well stated.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:44 | Report abuse |
    • el efecto Rayleigh

      As a friend told me, this comment by Science tutor must be linked to all science news out there. Well done! And come on, if the only thing you got from this was the wrong state, please read again.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
    • A scientist

      Nicely stated.

      And just to address the "correlation does not imply causation" rebuttal - of course it doesn't. However, correlation is the first step to uncovering causation. If you find two variables that are correlated, then you can research the basis for the correlation (i.e., uncover causation). For example, it is true that this study does not imply the weight per se is the direct cause; it could be that the true cause is something associated with being overweight - eating too much sugar, lack of exercise, genetic factors, etc. However, uncovering this correlation will now allow us to examine the basis for the correlation, potentially leading us to the cause.

      In other words, this shouldn't be taken as a final answer, but studies such as this one represent important steps towards that final answer.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:47 | Report abuse |
    • iminim

      Thank you for your post. It, and the other responses to this article, demonstrate why scientific methods, definitions, and research techniques need to be taught in our schools. Sadly, we have become a nation of people willing to accept only that information that supports our preformed opinions without regard to the validity of the source rather than seek information from legitimate research sources. Due to lack of science knowledge, we have no idea how to evaluate the quality of the information presented to us even as we are bombarded with info from a rapidly increasing range of media sources.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:49 | Report abuse |
    • scott137159

      @ Patman–
      Again, it's not that an apparently interesting correlation between the rise in autism and the rise in the numbers of vaccinations doesn't exit, it's that BECAUSE that correlation exists, it's been very well studied and found to not be a causal relationship.

      As a side note, you might be interested to learn that while the absolute number of vaccines given has increased dramatically, the number of bacterial and viral proteins and other molecules used in the vaccines to elicit an immune response has actually fallen, due to the invention of more "pure" vaccines. For example, the original small pox vaccine contained over 200 different viral particles that the child's immune system had to contend with to develop immunity. In contrast, the entire vaccine schedule recommended by the CDC COMBINED now exposes the child to about 160. Our immune systems just don't care how many separate injections it's exposed to; it responds to the individual immunologic particles, and that number has fallen.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:55 | Report abuse |
    • iminim

      Don't feel bad, ScienceTutor, North Carolina actually does have some excellent autism research & treatment programs going on through UNC. This study just happened to be from No California.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:57 | Report abuse |
    • Science Tutor

      Patman, there are MANY things that have increased along with incidences of autism. Reality TV, held-up federal judge appointments, and cell phones could be causes too. Well, maybe cell phones. But to date, science on vaccines seems to have ruled that out as a significant factor. I welcome any further studies on that, but I suggest this correlation with obesity/diabetes is significant and must be explored further; no accepted science on vaccines has been equally compelling to scientists.

      I think it's great that laypeople have ideas about what to study, but just because you quote a stat that you find compelling does not settle the scientific debate.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:59 | Report abuse |
    • Crows

      One reason why N. California may be relevant to a potentially distorted study is that there is a disproportionate autism population in Silicon Valley, which is in N. CA. So although I agree that too many people have an "I read it on the internet, therefore it is true" approach to anything related to science and statistics, it is also important to look at as many factors as possible, as accurately as possible. I am willing to give researchers at UC Davis the benefit of the doubt that they also knew about the autism population in their area 🙂

      April 9, 2012 at 12:24 | Report abuse |
    • Science Tutor

      Crows: even if there is a disproportionate rate of autism in Silicon Valley (I'll stipulate for the moment that that is true, I don't know), this report STILL shows a higher incidence among obese and diabetic mothers. Perhaps there are other causes as well–the article and these specific researchers believe there are many factors–but this study says that if someone in Silicon Valley has a child, regardless of other factors (water quality, air quality, living close to Larry Ellison), the risk of autism increases with obesity and diabetes. Of course we need further studies to ID and isolate a number of potential causes; the point is, this is an exciting breakthrough that, unlike a vaccine connection, points to a need for attention and study. And it has nothing to do with "I read it on the Internet so it's true." Rather, I am grateful for news reporting one wide range of scientific study to further educate the public about how science proceeds and by what means science chooses where to,put its attention.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
    • Science Tutor

      Typo in my last comment: should have said "on a wide range of studies" not "one wide range of study"

      April 9, 2012 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
    • Francise

      It is absolutely clear that no know- knows what causes autism. First it was vaccines, then your environment, the mom not having access to quality health care, then something in the father's genes, now its the prespective mom being obese. I am a parent of a child with autism. We had none of aforementioned issues. Yes we would like to find a cure but lets deal with the secondary issue after finding the cure. And having the resources and tools in schools, after sfter school programs for these children, summer programs and all the neccesary things that is going to make them a useful and viable citizen.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
    • Isaac

      Thank you for an extremely well written and intelligent response, I only wish the rest of the comments on the internet had even a quarter of the intelligence you've displayed in yours. I only made it another 3 replies before people started, "just asking questions" about suspecting that this has something to do with the food industry & chemicals therein, anecdotal evidence about skinny mothers having autistic kids, and I'm sure in 3 more replies someone will blame Obama. This is a nation of, "yea but still" responses that hold no merit to the facts, and they; the uneducated masses, believe they can counter large scientific studies with, "well but my neighbor..." These people can VOTE for gosh sake.

      "Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

      April 9, 2012 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
    • iminim

      Issac: Love the quote. Where did you get it?

      April 9, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • Beam48

      I thought what you wrote was good.(though I would hate to see a skinny pregnant woman! lol...No I realize what they are saying)...I was kind of surprised to read this though, when the news just had a study released about how the age of the father can make a difference too. (I did see that in the link in the article that talked about that though). They did say some years ago that more and more couples were waiting until their were older to have children. I am an older parent...my husband (now ex...just putting that in there cause I can't stand to call him my husband) had our son when he was 35 and I was a month away from being 35. I was extremely thin when I got pregnant and had a hard time gaining the weight I needed to gain. Now my son did not developed autism...but did inherit my learning disability and did have some fine and gross motor delays..a sensory integration disorder and ADHD. I got him the help he needed early on and he is no longer considered LD and is making A's and B's in high school now. Yes his social skills and communication skills were terrible when he was young but I really worked hard with him on those things. He takes a small amount of meds for his ADHD but is a typical teen in every sense of the word. Before he was born I was working with developmentally delayed adults and had been around at least two adults who were severely brain damaged by the MMR vaccine. The mother of one had me read a book on the dangerous of it ..since I was pregnant at the time. She really didn't want me to get him that vaccination. This of course was during the time of the great fear that vaccine caused autism. Gosh who wouldn't believe it when their toddlers were fine until AFTER they got the shot? But then I also read what those disease could do to a child too. It was a very difficult decision for me to make. I mean here I was taking care of an young adult in a wheelchair that had uncontrollable seizures that couldn't talk or do anything for herself due to the severe brain damage from the vaccine. Eventually when I decided to do was stagger the shots, rather then have him get them all at once time. There was a short period of time where his speech declined...very scary for me! But then he got back on track. At one point in his life when he was still fairly young he was almost diagnosed with Asperger syndrome which is a form of autism. But again things seemed to straighten out for him. (by the Grace of God). I hope they keep doing research on this...I think its probably going to be a very complex problem with no easy solutions I am afraid.

      April 9, 2012 at 15:33 | Report abuse |
  2. Pinewalker

    I am shocked by this report. I thought for sure it may say the Moms were below average in weight and it may be link to nutritional issues. All the mothers I know of autistic children are very thin and though not obsessed, at least are more concerned about their weight and diet than the average person. Quite a few of them are also vegetarian.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leigh

      And al the moms I know with autistic children are obese.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:28 | Report abuse |
    • Science Tutor

      Your pithy experience with a few moms who are thin only supports the already-agreed upon understanding, mentioned frequently in the article, that this may be one of several genetic and possibly environmental factors. Knowing a few people does not discount the weight of a significant 1000-mom+ study. The study says those factors INCREASE risk, not solely cause the risk.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
    • Neil J Travorsky

      I agree Pinewalker, my son is autistic and my wife was thin as well as I know atleast 6 to 7 autistic mothers. Only one was obese [and still is]. These are just statistics...no scientific relations.
      Same as the following idiotic statements:
      1. all terrorists are .... but not all those ...... are terrorists.
      2. All grisly murders are committed by lighter skinned people [including black with lighter shade]

      April 9, 2012 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
    • Teri

      I have the same experience as Leigh. Everybody that I know who has an autistic child is obese and was during their pregnancy. Same for just general learning disabilities. It seems – at least in my area – that the more learning disabilities a child has (as well as some other issues like asthma or severe allergies), the more impoverished and obese mom is. But, like said above, it could be more of a nutritional issue, not necessarily an obesity issue. It is common knowledge that obese people generally are not getting the best nutrition. And, you also have to wonder is it caused by poor nutrition during the pregnancy or by poor nutrition of the child in early childhood. Until they can start diagnosing autism, allergies, asthma, etc at birth, you can't really say for sure that whatever the problem was happened during pregnancy.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • .45

      It makes total sense to me that vegetarians would have autistic kids, seeing as vegetarians lack the nutrients required to develop a healthy brain. Some of the dumbest people I've ever met were vegetarians, and that's as good as science.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
    • Coolhandluke

      My guess is that .45 is vegetarian.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • WhatNow

      The article says increased risk and I really don't know what being a vegetarian has to do with anything.

      April 9, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
  3. Mslch

    Weight is the cause? Of course foods industries dictate what CNN can write.

    It's not the weight, it's all the chemical, unnatural genetic altering in the foods itself.

    In the next grocery run, look at those giant strawberries. They are only supposed to be 1/4 the size in a natural environment. Those chickens were raise w/ all the "poisons" in the foods that fed to them and injected in them so the can grow 3 times as fast.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jared

      More like a potentially contributing factor than a cause.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:33 | Report abuse |
    • kcouriansanchez

      I agree, all the chemicals in food and its production, I'm sure are at the heart of the rise in autism......Just like cancer as well.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:36 | Report abuse |
    • BandS

      Spot on Mslch spot on!

      April 9, 2012 at 11:12 | Report abuse |
    • Lalula

      Totally agree, our bodies are very sensitive to what we put in them.

      I am waiting to read an article about the major chemicals found in our foods. Strawberries – why are they so big and tasteless ? what is used to make them gigantic and loose their natural strawberry taste ? how does this chemical affect health ?

      April 9, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
    • Lotekote

      Mslch: I love to see someone with common sense! Very first thing that popped into my head. Diet and food choices is everything. All the chemicals and preservatives that is put into food that we are supposed to eat are poisoning people.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:00 | Report abuse |
    • Mslch

      Meanwhile the CEOs of these foods related industries and the owners and investors shop at organic grocery stores cuz they wouldn't even dare to touch their craps; the same people also lobby to push legislations to force higher prices on manufacturing selling "organics" to make sure poor souls like you and me have to keep on eating their craps!

      April 10, 2012 at 02:48 | Report abuse |
  4. LCSWquilter

    Being overweight "may" increase the risk of autism? It is irresponsible to say this before this is a confirmed factor. This article places one more unnecessary guilt trip on overanxious moms who take the blame of everything negative that happens to their children - whether it was their responsibility or not. Having babies is naturally fraught with all kinds of risk. This is life - always has been - and always will be.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gigi

      Totally agree. One small study with disproportionate number of children in each category can in no way be considered a fact about the rates of occurrence.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:36 | Report abuse |
    • Neeneko

      Actually, 'facts' are exactly what they have. There is a correlation, and there are models for causation, so the use of 'may' is completely appropriate.

      Though if you want absolutes, there are plenty of groups in this thread willing to give you a definitive absolute answer with no shred of evidence behind them, but hey, at least they are confident and conclusive!

      April 9, 2012 at 10:52 | Report abuse |
    • Science Tutor

      I seriously think you need to look up the word "may" in a dictionary. You don't seem to understand the meaning of that word nor how it MAY be used to define a study that indicates correlation and MAY therefore point to a cause.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:01 | Report abuse |
    • Emmie

      Yes, any time there is a high risk of danger involved in a certain behavior, they should keep it a secret until they are absolutely sure. I don't care enough about my kids to change my behavior based on a strong correlation.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
    • A scientist

      Like it or not, this is how science works. We are tackling very difficult problems, so the journey towards finding answers is long. However, publishing these sorts of links is essential for working our way towards the answer, as it allows scientists to piece together all of the many factors that are linked to autism and hopefully find a common thread.

      Science is a collaborative effort, so it is essential to share all of the evidence we find. If we waited until we had definitive answers to publish, we would never get there.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:52 | Report abuse |
    • 45 Apps_Admin

      Oh, so making scientific research public knowledge is irresponsible but somehow being an obese mom isn't? Should we also lock up all of the skinny girls so that they don't put any unnecessary guilt trips on fat overanxious mom's that couldn't find the self control or self respect to take care of their own body? You're right, there are all kinds of risks involved in having babies, risks that are only compounded when the mother is unhealthy and clearly in no shape to be having them. So when they're shouldering this blame for all of the negative things that happen to their kids, maybe that isn't misplaced. Maybe it has nothing to do with trying to pass blame and everything to do with the mothers poor judgment.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
    • Ksristen

      I agree with you. There has been the "blame game " in autism for decades- I can't understand why the scintists
      can't make better progress in finding at least a cause. I was only about 20 lbs overweight (not obese) and only developed hypertention when I was in the last stages of pregnaney . I developed pre-eclampsia- not having any prior high bloodpressure issues before. This guilt trip is NOT what mom's of children with autism need.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:53 | Report abuse |
    • A scientist

      Kristen: You say that you "can't understand why the scientists can't make better progress" as if solving the basis for a complex disease is some trivial matter, and as if scientists are not trying. If you want reasons, here are a few:

      1. We have been pressured to waste countless resources pursuing the supposed vaccines connection, despite no evidence to support this theory and extensive evidence arguing against it.

      2. We have to fight against a growing anti-scientific mindset in this country, nicely exemplified by comments on this board, where people who know nothing about the topic feel perfectly comfortable trumpeting their nonsense ideas as fact and bashing any scientific progress that conflicts with their world view.

      3. The NIH budget has been almost completely stagnant for a decade, so adjusting for inflation, research dollars have shrunk considerably. We spend more on defense-related expenditures every two weeks than we do annually on medical research. In tough economic times, one could argue that this is a reasonable economic choice, but it is rather unfair to cut our funding, then complain about our productivity.

      4. Our science and math educational system is falling apart, shrinking the pools of quality scientists.

      So, if you want us to make progress solving autism, stop bashing scientists and instead use that energy to fight to give us the resources that we need to do it.

      April 9, 2012 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
  5. MomW2kids

    Ah yes more "studies" with theories on Autism. No matter how many studies are done, I will always be convinced that genetics and environment have more to do with disorders than mom's "size" or on whether a child was vaccinated or not.
    Asperger (or the former known) Syndrome is most likely what I have. My mother was neither obese or diabetic when I was in utero. Neither did I start to show signs after vaccination, there have always been little quirks about me. I am who I am.
    During my first pregnancy I was tiny, around month five I was barely showing. I got diagnosed with GD with my son, delivered him prematurely at barely 8 months. He has neurological issues, but Autism is not something he has been diagnosed with. I was "obese" with my daughter though and even on insulin throughout the second half of pregnancy, she too is normal. Yet if either were diagnosed today, I would take the genetic makeup as more of a factor than my size during either pregnancy.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Neeneko

      So what you are saying is that you are going to hold to your beliefs no matter what evidence is uncovered or links are found? So actual facts, science, and reality are less important to you then what you feel?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:24 | Report abuse |
  6. Gerald

    Since most these studies are sponsored by the drug companies themselves their results should not surprise any one. The fact the government moved to protect the drug companies from being sued under the homeland security laws should be enough to raise eyebrows alone. Follow the money folks, the senate and congress are in the drug companies pockets and they consider a one or two percent fall out rate (autism) an acceptable vaccine success rate.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chameleoncal

      Fail. Companies actually make very little, if any, profits from vaccines. They are not very profitable.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:42 | Report abuse |
  7. SuZieCoyote

    Of cours! I knew it all along. It's the mother's fault. Isn't it always? Isn't everything?

    April 9, 2012 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Gigi

    My biggest problem with this study is the disproportionate amount of autism/developmental disorder kids to normal kids. Statistically it is more likely that more parents would have _____ in the autism group because there are more in them. In order for this study to have an real effect that numbers would have to be increased tremendously to get a better sampling of the population. While this study might have added new discussion points and theories – it was hardly worth mentioning on CNN as fact.

    One small study does not translate into facts about rats. It means in this study that was the rate, yet most people don't understand that.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • @askanepi

      It's called a case-control study. In studies as this, you must have a disproportionate number of cases and controls to study the occurrence and risk factors of the disease. Issues of sample size, power and other statistical concepts are the reason for this perceived imbalance. Furthermore, the journal pf Pediatrics is a well-respected and high impact factor journal. If they messed up their study design, a team of biostatisticians would pounce on them.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse |
    • RaineOn

      Agreed -as a mom of autistic twins born in the 1984. living in Los Angeles. This study is full of it.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
  9. DiamondM

    At least from reading this article, there was actually no testing of obesity PER SE as a potential cause for autism, just whether diabetes and hypertension increase the risk of autism. Skinny women can have both of those, and being overweight does not necessarily mean one has diabetes or hypertension. Thus, the reporting is either too shallow in that it doesn't report the actual results of testing for obesity without diabetes or hypertension, or it is irresponsible by suggesting that obesity itself is the problem.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. t3chsupport

    I'd say that mothers who are obese are 67% more likely to be hypochondriacs themselves. One thing about autism is that you just can't blame the parents at all. You can't even suggest that someone's non-verbal child simply isn't being taught, or their kids' constant, inconsolable tantrums are a result of poor discipline, or any other abnormality has anything to do with the parents. Autism seems to only happen to kids who have perfect parents.

    I probably wouldn't be so cynical if my own 'autistic' son, who was non verbal and couldn't go in public without having a meltdown, wasn't damn near 'cured' by simply gently enforcing standards. He's still not normal, but who cares. He's bright and functional, polite and well spoken for his age. Sure, there are some autistic kids who have really severe problems that can't really be helped, but that doesn't mean you don't try to help them. Simply putting the 'autistic' label on them does not help them. You have to be the one to teach them to get along in a tough world, because the world won't be gentle on them just because they have a label.

    If you get a diagnosis for autism, don't immediately go looking for treatment. It's a bunch of super expensive nonsense that you can do yourself at home for free. These treatments are making people MILLIONS. Sure, they work for some people, but those people usually haven't really tried anything themselves. Go get a second opinion, and then a third.

    Also something very popular nowadays that people don't want to admit to, but having an autistic kid is popular. Like a designer dog. Autism is like the new 'indigo child'. People literally project autism onto their kids so that people will feel sorry for the parents.

    The real irony? I fit perfectly into the definitions of Asperger's, and my husband is fully in the autism spectrum. Yeah, life is hard, but so is everything else. I still think most of this stuff is hogwash.

    For the majority of kids who have it, autism is not a disability. It's a difference from the norm. The only disability comes from having parents who don't know how to handle it, and try to raise them like any other kid. They are different, so you parent differently.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Neeneko

      Working on it 'at home' is still 'treatment'. In fact the 'label' can really help since it identifies what is going on and opens up all sorts of support services and communities. Fumbling around blinking trying to deal with symptoms can sometimes work, but knowing what you are up against and what others have already learned is really valuable to many people.

      I am not sure I would agree that autism has become some sort of status symbol, that seems pretty out there. Though it is true that some parents push to see autism when it might be another developmental disorder since right now autism is receiving the bulk of the public attention and thus as the best support services (and is more likely to receive insurance assistance), so the less known developmental issues are not as good to get diagnosed with.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
  11. JustMe

    This is pure crap. There has always been mothers who were overweight. Autism has nothing to do with that, besides like others have said, there are plenty of thin mothers who kids are autistic.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • peridot2

      Classic denial.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:29 | Report abuse |
    • chameleoncal

      There are WAY more obese and overweight pregnant women than there were in the past. At the same time, the rate of autism in the obese moms' kids in this study was higher than the rate of obesity in kids whose moms were NOT obese. That doesn't prove causation, but it sure is suggestive...
      A doctor

      April 9, 2012 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
    • sam

      So you're a scientist, then?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:32 | Report abuse |
  12. BandS

    This article is such bull! The ignorant one's are the people who believe this crap..."Mslch" is right on with their post about the foods and chemicals, etc. CNN and news reporters will write anything to make sheep believe their fairytales!

    April 9, 2012 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • peridot2

      More denial.

      Autism runs in my husband's family. My son is Autistic, therefore his Autism has more to do with that trait than anything else.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
  13. Joink

    So much for a woman's "choice" to be fat, see choices actually do matter.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Billy Z

    At last, we can finally blame the moms for giving birth to autistic kids (rolling eyes)... Wouldn't it be nice if we could track down one single cause to blame for this complex range of syndromes? Baked foods with gluten, vaccinations, mom's too fat, MSG, hi-frutose corn syrup, driving a hybred car during pregnancy – take your pick. It seems that as we take more complex technology for granted – we want the simplest answers the to complex problems our human bodies give us! BTW, the right answer is: overuse of cell phones (and I'm stickin with that)!

    April 9, 2012 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joink

      Be patient, it will be blamed on Bush before it's over and you will get your wish.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:00 | Report abuse |
  15. OregonTom

    How does a fat girl get pregnant in the first place?

    April 9, 2012 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • t3chsupport

      Desperately.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
  16. Tianya Campbell

    I am inclined to believe this new study. I have four daughters. My third daughter is autistic and with my third pregnancy I developed a pretty significant case of gestational diabetes. I could never relate to the studies on immunizations, pesticides, etc. This one is right on the money in my case. Thank you for this new information.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Cielo

    Thus far THIS theory makes the most sense! As obesity rates soar and rates of autism are at an "epidemic" proportion, it makes sense that there could be some strong correltaion between the two.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. eroteme

    A new study! How great the day is!

    April 9, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. DeeNYC

    More reasons not to be a fat pig. On the flip side, I'm sure being a scrawny twig is just as bad for the baby.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. kayaker247

    that's a ridiculous finding. a friend had a child with autism, she's a picture of health and not an ounce over weight. maybe the fact that a majority of the people in this country are fat has something to do with these results.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. JAANC

    how convenient as the social police are on the warparth to find anything to declare "a public health risk" (as stated in the article).. remember mr science tutor adn others people vehemently believed and defended that hte world was flat – and more recently – in the 1970s – that eggs were bad for you and would kill you if you ate them.. tread cautiously when government studies come up with these conclusions and seeks to implement restrictions based on what any real scientist would dub 'bad data'

    April 9, 2012 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • iminim

      Better yet, learn how to critically evaluate a scientific article and judge for yourself. Learn about "case-control" studies and "meta-analysis". Find out what scientific studies mean by "risk reduction", "relative risk", and "p values". If you choose not to trust the outlets you are using to critique scientific literature, then learn how to do it yourself. Be warned, however; you are wasting your time if your goal is to prove your preconceived notions are always right.

      April 9, 2012 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
  22. Pam

    Oh sure – now Mom's that spend their lives suffering endlessly trying to help their autistic child, have one more reason to guiltily suffer wondering if 'she' could have caused it. Having a grandchild with autism, I know the pain and guilt the Mother endures. If 'they' don't have a conclusive cause for autism, 'they' need to keep their 'theories' and 'what-ifs' to themselves. The families of autistic children suffer tremendous emotional, mental, physical and financial issues. Find ways to help these families; not dump more guilt on them.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Well

    What do we expect...look at how we eat and live...and our bodies respond accordingly.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lalula

      our bodies and our brains both respond accordingly – depression, behavior problems, autism, signs of an unhealthy brain, obesity is an unhealthy body

      April 9, 2012 at 11:33 | Report abuse |
  24. Victor

    The article is interesting and informative...the comments raise serious questions about whether our educational system is properly teaching science. The level of ignorance on this comment board regarding basic sceintific causality is staggering!

    April 9, 2012 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lalula

      I agree – I dont think people got dumber in the past decades, but certainly did not get smarter either, its just that there is an abundance of cheap unhealthy food today and people dont know how to control themselves – you are what you eat – if you eat chemicals you basically become well .... lol your body becomes a science experiment and that is nasty !!!

      April 9, 2012 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
    • Tianya Campbell

      Very well spoken Victor 🙂

      April 9, 2012 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
  25. Lalula

    Maybe its because overweight or obese women eat more of those foods with chemicals in them – so if you are fat – you eat more chemicals – if you are thinner you eat less of those chemicals present iin our foods – exercise, stay healthy, and eat organic as much as possible and I bet the likelihood of autism and behavioral problems decreases – logical no ?

    April 9, 2012 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gramps

      Maybe. At least you are thinking.

      As the grandfather of an autistic child, I would love to know.

      Just don't buy into the vaccine correlation. It was bogus to begin with and studies show, at least, an absence of causation.

      April 9, 2012 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
  26. dreamer96

    The "Michael Clayton's", of the World know what is causing Autism...when will they tell us??

    April 9, 2012 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • peridot2

      Seriously, do you believe that?

      What colour is the sky on your home planet? Are there fairies and unicorns?

      April 9, 2012 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
  27. andrewr770

    Wow, that's a bombshell study. I have wondered over the past several years what could possibly be causing the rapidly increased incidence of autism among children in the US. It's not vaccines despite the vacuous protestations of Jenny McCarthy's mob. Could it be diet (increased hormones, more processed foods, etc), or it is related to a sedentary lifestyle? While obesity is obviously not the sole determinant, if the rise of autism follows the rise of obesity, it simply makes sense that they are related somehow. It could be perhaps still related to a sedentary lifestyle or poor food choices since those obviously contribute to obesity, but it would stand to reason that if you reduce obesity, you should see a reduction in autism as well assuming that the reduction in weight came as a result of healthy living and not eating disorders or pills. The bottom-line is that it won't hurt anyone if you lose weight and choose to be healthy, but if we continue in this country to insist that obesity is "A-OK" (see the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance as an example) then the healthcare costs and implications will continue to mount. I am not sure how much factual data is needed to ensure that outcome, however.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. drefromla

    Being an obese mother is bad for a child? I'm shocked! Shocked. Undisciplined people shouldn't be having children anyway.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Bmore

    Tutor – thank you. I am a mother with an autistic child. I was overweight when I had both my children, one (my son) is autistic and my daughter has a genius level IQ and is normally developing. When I was pregnant and now, I had no other medical problems. I tended to be hypoglycemic rather than hyper – tended to be hypotensive rather than hyper. When I read the findings of this study, my first reaction was overwhelming GUILT, that I may somehow, have contributed to my son's autism, despite the fact that his genetic studies seem to point towards a genetic cause. The jury is still out, nevertheless, eliminating one preventable factor such as weight is a very important factor and should be widely published as yet another reason for people to get to a healthy weight especially before having a child.

    Finally drefromla and others of your ilk – there is no adequate response for your level of intolerance and ignorance but I wish you above all things (if you are going to have a child) a health and loving child.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Emmie

    I'm very alarmed after reading this comments section. It is scary how many people spin the science to fit their own worldview. All they are saying here is that children of obese mothers have a higher chance of having an autistic child. They never state that thin mothers will not produce autistic children or obese mothers will always produce them! They even say in the article that there may be many triggers for autism, so this study does not rule out anybody else's crazy anecdotal ideas on what may be the cause.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. mjd

    GREAT. Blame Mom again! Doctors encourage women to put on up to 60 pounds during a pregnancy. 60 pounds people!!!! Why don't we try dumping the problem where it belongs? At the feet of the high and mighty doctors. Yes, autism was around before vaccines but that does not negate the possibility that too many vaccines can cause it. There are many causes and this is NOT a breakthrough. Oh and Science Tutor? I've had rubella (twice), measles, chicken pox, mumps, and as an adult Whooping cough! I'm still here and I'm FINE. Oh and BTW I got the whooping couogh from a child who had been vaccinated. Thank you so much.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sam

      So you're essentially a one in a million case. That's about all anyone got out of your post. Oh, and that you're a littly defensive and possibly insane.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • A scientist

      If your doctor is encouraging you to put on 60 pounds during pregnancy, it is time to find a new doctor. The traditional recommendation is 25 to 35 pounds for an average weight woman, and less for overweight women. And some are even questioning whether these recommendations are too high.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:46 | Report abuse |
  32. 315 taxpayer

    meanwhile, our tax dollars ( aka as food stamps) continues to buy soda ( and pay the soda deposit and tax), junk food, cookes, cakes, etc inthis over generous state.

    Perhaps if poor people weren't given so much junk food/non basic food for free they might eat less of it.

    Food stamps should go back it its beginnings, allowing/giving the needy BASIC food assistance, not a way of life to so many.

    Love to see the surplus food program resurface. basic health food groups for the needy.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. cadensmom

    Although I “get” what Science Tutor is speaking about, and thank her/him for making some things clearer, like the issue of how to avoid the myopia of one’s own experience…it all still makes me wonder, as some years ago I was severely overweight and gave birth to a healthy, smart, normal boy. Then I had gastric bypass 11 years ago and lost an enormous amount of weight. Now, after giving birth to my second son two years ago, my second son has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. AllYourBase

    This is no big surprise. Just a few weeks ago tons of media reports were asking why autism has been on the rise, dramatically increasing in recent years. Here's you're answer. Cause people continue to get fatter and fatter. Just look at the percentage of Americans considered overweight of obese. It's disgusting.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. MysteriaKiito

    I really don't think weight has anything to do with it. You're supposed to gain weight during pregnancy for crying out loud. Some women start off thin but end up way overweight by the end of their pregnancy, some don't gain much at all. I really think it's a lot of different things. Environment, medications the mother might be taking, and family history. My son has a mild form of PDD and I really think it might be because I was on anti-depressants during pregnancy. My doctor said it was safe, but it's the only thing I did that would explain it. So during my second pregnancy I was not on any medication at all and my daughter is normal, just a bit of a brat.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cadensmom

      That brings to mind something I've been wondering...I was taking a certain medication before I became pregnant and wonder if the drug was still in my system when I actually became pregnant...and now wonder if that has anything to do with my son's recent diagnosis.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
  36. Kimberly

    rate of AMISH AUTISM...1:15,000

    April 9, 2012 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • iminim

      While the Amish are an interesting population when studying recessive genetic disease, they are not as scientifically sound a population to use in different types of studies. Why? Because their lifestyle is too different to pin down the single difference that sets them apart. Do they have lower rates of autism (if you accept that your statistics are correct) because it goes undiagnosed due to the different ways they interact with the medical system? Maybe the manifestations of mild autism are more in line with the structured, focused life they lead so a child with mild symptoms goes undetected.

      Even if you can actually prove less autism in their community, could their isolated genetic pool be the cause? Perhaps it is the fact the they butcher & prepare their own meat, avoid electromagnetic radiation that emenates from many electronic devices, worship in a particular way, are more likely to deliver their children at home, do more heavy physical labor, or exposed to a greater variety of animal antigens through livestock. The Amish lifestyle is just too different to use a single item like vaccine utilization to prove or disprove causation.

      April 9, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
  37. Disgusted

    This article really upsets me – I am the mother of an autistic son. Before and during my pregnancy I was neither fat nor did I have diabetes. My husband and I divorced and he had a son with his 2nd wife who was not fat and did not have diabetes. Their son is also autistic.
    Lets blame fat people to deflect from the real issue – What is causing this condition – how can we prevent it? How can we cure/alleviate the symptoms of autism?

    April 9, 2012 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ADJ

      You don't understand statistics, do you?
      The article says that the odds increase. Not the only fat women have autistic kids and skinny women don't. Both fat and skinny women can have autistic kids, but the study shows a correlation with higher autism rates among the heavier women.

      April 9, 2012 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
    • SHT

      I don't think they're blaming obese mothers. I think they're just saying a mother's weight may be a factor among many. Your case sounds genetic. Possibly something on the father's side considering he is the common factor in both pregnancies.

      April 9, 2012 at 15:15 | Report abuse |
  38. Kate2000

    Sigh. Instead of pointing the finger at a mother's diabetes or weight during pregnancy, this to me only lends more credence to the theory that people with a genetic predisposition to autoimmune disorders (diabetes, to name one example) and anxiety disorders within the family makeup can lead to autism, rather than one specific genetic marker. In this case, perhaps it's highlighting the "diabetes" portion to this genetic stew, rather than diabetes or obesity being the culprit itself.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Jack Straw

    HFCS is to blame for causing Autism. The three things all these women had in common was they all ate processed food from Monsanto, drank a lot of soda, and had weaker immune systems than most.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Tom is a piper too

    Last year this same data set was used to observe that living within 1000 ft of a freeway increased the probability of having a child with autism by 100% ("2 fold increase") http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/newsroom/newsdetail.html?key=4888&keyword=autism&svr=http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu&table=archived

    April 9, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. newparent

    A previous commenter posted the following link as proof that the government had debunked the link between vaccines and autism. http://www.scribd.com/doc/2887572/Simpsonwood-Transcript20Searchable

    However I question whether they even read the study? I've only read part of the 286 pages but here are just a couple of quotes. "we have found statistically significant relationships between the exposure and the outcome" in reference to exposure to thimerosal and the outcomes being various neurological disorders. "an increase of 0.7% for each additional microgram of ethyl mercury" in reference to exposure levels at 3 months. So exactly how do you get that this study translates to vaccines have been proven to not impact neurological development. This study also does not look into any questions surrounding the use of aluminum in vaccines which is also a known neurotoxin.

    In any of these discussions there always seems to be numerous commenters mentioning all the various studies showing the safety of vaccines but no links are posted. As a new parent I have done research and have yet to find a good study that prove no link exists. The one above, in fact, says that there is an impact to neurological development. So please, if anyone has a link to a double blind study of 100% vaccinated versus 100% unvaccinated children I would love to see it. I just have not found one. That is the only true study that would prove definitely that vaccines do not introduce any level of risk.

    And please, enough with the "I have a friend who didn't vaccinate and they had a kid that was autistic" comments. No one is saying that vaccines are the only cause and one example of a friend of a random commenter is going to persuade anyone.

    Thanks.

    April 9, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • A scientist

      A large-scale double-blind study does not exist for the exact same reason that a double-blind study showing the efficacy of seat belts doesn't exist. Just as it would be unethical to require people not to wear seat belts for a study, it would be unethical at this point to inject people with people with placebos.

      Each vaccine went through rigorous clinical trials. However, the sample sizes of these may not be large enough to detect subtle effects on a rare disorder like autism, so these alone are not enough to completely close the door on supposed vaccines/autism connection.

      However, there have been a number of large epidemiological studies that have looked at the possible connection, and none have found any evidence supporting it. For example, if you google "danish epidemiological study vaccines nnii" you will find one of the many such studies. Each of these studies have flaws (some only focus on mercury containing vaccines, some focus on specific vaccines, etc), but the point is that many researchers have looked at this issue, and none can find any evidence to support any connection between vaccines and autism. At some point, when the evidence doesn't fit your theory, it is time to find a new theory.

      April 9, 2012 at 14:30 | Report abuse |
    • Erik

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1124634/
      I have never before seen clinical trial data on half a million people, but it's pretty convincing that MMR is NOT the cause of autism. But you don't even have to read that. Consider that since 1990, vaccination rates have been plummeting, at the same time that autism rates have been steadily rising (heck, doubling, tripling maybe). That in itself proves vaccines not to be the issue, since millions of children have been born since the nineties, and reached the age where their autism would appear. The fact that rates haven't dropped in response to the decline in vaccination shows vaccination, methyl mercury not to be the cause. Consider also the rampant misuse of methyl mercury in the 40's and 50's ( a halcyon time when autism was low). The only thing refusal to vaccinate has achieved is diphtheria and pertussis outbreaks, and removal of thimerosol has probably achieved precisely nothing.

      April 9, 2012 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
    • newparent

      I already replied once but seems like it did not go through.

      So how about instead of a double blind study a controlled study with a large sample of all the "crazy" people who choose not to vaccinate their children is compared to an equal sample who do the standard vaccinations? What would be wrong with conducting a formalized study like this to quiet the naysayers. I guarantee you would not have a problem finding people who would volunteer. You could also compare things like allergy and asthma which have been linked to vaccines and various other issues.

      Thanks.

      April 9, 2012 at 18:24 | Report abuse |
    • newparent

      And also, why was the fact that there were correlations between mercury exposure at 3 months and neuro development disorders like ADD and speech delays ignored in the study I linked?

      April 9, 2012 at 18:28 | Report abuse |
  42. Fiona

    There are so many incidental factors, in the life of a mother who is obese and/or a diabetic, that attributing an increased risk of autism is the fetuses of those women is almost meaningless. Obesity can be associated with stress (stress eating and stress from unhappiness, social isolation, etc.), which has a huge effect on fetal development. Poor nutrition, insulin level fluctuations (both in diabetics and in the obese), lack of exercise - any of the could be factors for any mother, but are more prevalent in the obese and diabetics. I read these statistics and think, they've missed the forest for the trees.

    April 9, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. dernst

    it's just a statistic, you could also argue that most of these women had brown hair too and therefore brown haired women will have a higher chance of having children with autism. A study like this means nothing without more data to back it up.
    All it's going to do is produce a bunch of anorexic pregnant women and then another study will come out that says skinny women have an increased chance of having a child with autism.

    April 9, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. WhatNow

    Thank you Science Tutor! I might add that science and research are not about anyone's personal beliefs or experiences. There is a difference between what you believe to be true and what is true. Apparently, we no longer teach critical thinking in school.

    April 9, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Motherof1

    To Tom Tom The Pipers Son-
    Calling people "fatty's", telling them to return their children (where a lady had an adopted child – then you called her fat?), and outright criticizing things you clearly know nothing about? Shame on you. Hopefully the comments I attempted to report as abusive on you will disappear.

    April 9, 2012 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. bx1

    No, it's not weight, it's the preservative in the vaccines, and too many vaccines given all at once. At the concentrations given, that salt will interfere with certain neuronal compounds. At certain concentrations, which can occur when too many vaccines are all given at once, or too close together, the sulfite preservative concentration can get too high, and interfere and possibly degrade neurons, which is what is causing the autism rise. That's why, vaccines should be more spread out.

    April 9, 2012 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • A scientist

      And what is your evidence for this, given that a number of large epidemiological studies have found no connection between vaccines and autism?

      Science is more that just stringing together a series of big words to come up with an authoritative-sounding theory. It involves actually testing the theory. Your sulfite theory may sound good and convincing at dinner parties, but the evidence simply doesn't support it.

      April 9, 2012 at 14:35 | Report abuse |
    • Erik

      Scientists have a saying: "there is no greater tragedy in science than the slaying of a beautiful theory by an ugly fact". In the case of vaccines and thimerosol, the ugly facts disproving a vaccine or Thimerosol link have been legion, for those willing to listen. In fact, so many scientific resources have been wasted in looking for that non-existent link, I think we could have already found a more likely candidate for the continuing cause of the trend in autism, had we been willing to stop chasing a popular misconception for a decade. I believe the true cause is within our ability to locate, provided we are willing to generate and examine hypotheses in an unbiased manner.

      April 9, 2012 at 15:11 | Report abuse |
  47. Zak

    With apologies to the NAAFA crowd, it's about time the obese as a rapidly growing class (pun intended) acknowledge that carrying around tens or hundreds of pounds of useless, jiggly, inflammatory tissue is going to compromise the way their bodies work. Deal with it like an adult, you know? Say "I choose to eat this bag of potato chips, and I acknowledge and accept the consequences, whether that means heart disease, fewer romantic opportunities, or sh%#ng out Rain Man."

    Cheers

    April 9, 2012 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Erik

    So here's a prediction: the chemical which causes autism is a hydrophobic molecule. This would mean that it's not obesity which causes autism per se, but the additional adipose tissue serves as a storage depot for this chemical (which was likely first introduced in the 80's and has continued to be used more and more widely since that time). I do not claim to know what the chemical is, but the continuing upward growth of autism rates, and this obesity link suggests those two linkages. And I think the low rates in certain anti-technological communities (Amish for example), supports that. I will further venture to guess that if this obesity-autism link were reprobed in the Amish, there would be no correlation (because, again, obesity is only a risk factor, not a cause). One more guess: it's something indoors. There was an extremely interesting study which connected rainfall with subsequent rises in autism in communities, and the upshot was that the more time children spent indoors, the higher the rate. Carpeting? a household cleaner which has become widespread since 1980? Something to do with electronics or microwave radiation? My guess is still a chemical which has some detrimental effect on mirror neurons. For sure, it isn't vaccines. I think we can safely say we've checked that one and come up conclusively against it.

    April 9, 2012 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. A scientist

    Intriguing theory. While I have absolutely no idea if it correct, it nicely highlights the value of this and similar studies. Many on this board are arguing that it is irresponsible to publish this data until a causative link is proven. However, each thing that we can find that is linked to autism is a clue to the puzzle. If we can find what the various risk factors have in common (why being over-weight, being trapped indoors, being an older parent, etc. all are linked to autism), we may identify the true underlying cause.

    April 9, 2012 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • A scientist

      This was supposed to be a reply to Erik's comment immediately above.

      April 9, 2012 at 15:38 | Report abuse |
    • Erik

      Yes, I have no idea if it's correct either, but time will tell I suppose. Thanks for your many insightful posts to this article. I think you actually managed to educate a few people, and that's important!

      April 10, 2012 at 16:38 | Report abuse |
    • A scientist

      Thanks Erik. I enjoyed yours too. I often wonder whether such comments actually do have any impact, but I figure that if we let the uniformed be the only ones to comment, then there is the risk that there ideas will shape other people's.

      It is certainly understandable that not everyone would be an expert in every subject, but I think one of the biggest tragedies of the internet is that the anonymity that it affords make people who don't have any substantial knowledge on a subject comfortable in pretending that they are experts and parading around their ignorance.

      April 10, 2012 at 22:33 | Report abuse |
  50. Carissa

    This article makes me sick. Seems like there are alot of generalizations going on. The article never mentions if keeping your diabetes in control has any effect on your unborn child. There are so many other risk factors for autism yet none of these are mentioned. I am 5 ft 9 and weighed 140 lbs before I got pregnant. Unfortunately, I still developed gestational diabetes. My daughter, now 2 can count to 20, sing the ABC's and is meeting or exceeding all her developmental milestones.

    It seems to me that the authors of this article and those involved in the study should have done more research before publishing this biased report.

    April 9, 2012 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • scott137159

      Carissa-
      This isn't a review article about the whole of autism research.
      Why do so many people on this board not understand the difference between anecdote and evidence?

      April 9, 2012 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
    • Zak

      I guess a comment like this is the best you can hope for when someone who is not terribly bright reads something with a preconceived idea about what it should say.

      In other words, when almost any American reads something.

      Thanks for your contribution, Carissa...right on point. I for one was disappointed that the article didn't address the question of whether mustard is a superior condiment to ketchup.

      April 10, 2012 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
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