Maternal Metabolic Conditions and Risk for Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Pediatrics, 05/07/2012

Krakowiak P et al. – Maternal metabolic conditions (MCs) may be broadly associated with neurodevelopmental problems in children. With obesity rising steadily, these results appear to raise serious public health concerns.


  • Children aged 2 to 5 years (517 ASD, 172 DD, and 315 controls) were enrolled in the CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment) study, a population-based, case-control investigation between January 2003 and June 2010.
  • Eligible children were born in California, had parents who spoke English or Spanish, and were living with a biological parent in selected regions of California.
  • Children’s diagnoses were confirmed by using standardized assessments. Information regarding maternal conditions was ascertained from medical records or structured interview with the mother.


  • All MCs were more prevalent among case mothers compared with controls.
  • Collectively, these conditions were associated with a higher likelihood of ASD and DD relative to controls (odds ratio: 1.61 [95% confidence interval: 1.10–2.37; odds ratio: 2.35 [95% confidence interval: 1.43–3.88], respectively).
  • Among ASD cases, children of women with diabetes had Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL) expressive language scores 0.4 SD lower than children of mothers without MCs (P < .01).
  • Among children without ASD, those exposed to any MC scored lower on all MSEL and Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS) subscales and composites by at least 0.4 SD (P < .01 for each subscale/composite).

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