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Diabetes in pregnant women may raise autism risk in children

Children born to mothers with diabetes, which is known to complicate pregnancy, are likely to have an increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD), claims a new study.

ASD is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socialises with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication.

The study, by researchers including Anny H. Xiang from the Kaiser Permanente – a US-based health care company – showed that the risk is associated with Type-1 (T1D), Type-2 (T2D) and gestational diabetes.

The results showed that 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.

The severity of maternal diabetes and the timing of exposure (early vs late in pregnancy) may be associated with the risk of autism in children of mothers with diabetes, Xiang said.

The study, published in the journal JAMA, included data from 4,19,425 children who were born at 28 to 44 weeks from 1995-2012. They looked at how exposure to all three types of maternal diabetes was associated with diagnosis of ASD, which includes autistic disorders, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder among the children.

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