Autism Signs: Maternal Factors That Increase Risk for Autism

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According to recent findings in the scientific community there are several factors during pregnancy that may increase the chance of having a baby with autism.  Conditions such as fever, diabetes, chronic hypertension, and obesity may be linked with an increase in autism risk in children.


Autism Signs

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There have been studies completed recently in which the preliminary findings indicate that certain conditions during pregnancy may increase the unborn child’s chance of developing autism or other developmental delays.  The current estimate is that 1 out of every 110 children will be diagnosed with autism!  That is almost 1% of all children.  These are alarming statistics.  The increase in diagnosis may be due to increased awareness; however there is emerging research that indicates that the incidence of autism is actually increasing.

While the exact cause of autism is unknown, some researchers are linking maternal factors that might contribute to the incidence of autism.  Preliminary findings are showing that mother’s who:

  1. Experienced fever during their second trimester of pregnancy are twice as likely to have a child later diagnosed with autism.  This finding adds to a rapidly growing body of evidence that indicates that a mother’s inflammation during pregnancy may lead to autism.
  2. The same study also found that influenza (flu) during any trimester of pregnancy does not increase the unborn child’s risk for autism.
  3. Another study indicates that mothers who were obese prior to and during pregnancy, experienced chronic hypertension, gestational diabetes or type 2 diabetes during pregnancy were at a significantly increased risk of giving birth to a child who would be diagnosed with autism or other developmental delays.

As a matter of fact, the statistics are quite staggering:  Mothers who experienced one of those previously listed factors during pregnancy had a 60% increased risk of giving birth to child later diagnosed with autism; but they had a 150% increased risk of giving birth to a child later diagnosed with other developmental delays!

One interesting fact that was also discovered is that the birthing method has no bearing on the incidence of autism.  Mothers who give birth through C-Section (Cesarean) are not more likely to have a child diagnosed with autism.

While the links between maternal factors during pregnancy and increased risk of the child being diagnosed with autism seem daunting, there is good news!  All of the factors listed in the research are all able to be modified!  These are not uncontrollable factors!  Intervention and awareness can decrease the effect that maternal factors can have on the pathways leading to an autism diagnosis.  Remember that the findings in this research are preliminary and warrant more research and study.
If you experienced a fever during the second trimester of your pregnancy, had diabetes (gestational or type 2), had chronic hypertension or were obese during pregnancy, your child may be at an increased risk for autism-it does not mean your child will have autism.   Being aware of common autism signs is important, especially if your child may be at increased risk for autism.

For a list of common autism signs read this article: Autism Signs: The Most Common Autism Signs

For age specific autism signs you can read these articles:

If you would like to further your reading, we recommendCould It Be Autism?: A Parent’s Guide to the First Signs and Next Steps.  It is available in paperback, as well as instantly via Amazon Kindle for your immediate viewing pleasure.  If you do not have a Kindle, you may download the free version for you mobile device, PC, or Mac here.

Once again, thanks for reading.  If you have any questions, please email me at  Have a great day!


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