4X Your Risk of Having a Child With Autism

You’re Pregnant

Your pregnancy test is (+). Now every doctor’s appointment you hold your breath hoping that your precious babe is born healthy without any complications or challenges (been there? well.. ok, I haven’t.. but I can imagine). Most mothers would do anything, take any precaution to ensure the safety and health of her child. Many diseases, syndromes, and illness are genetic; however, some can be caused by environmental conditions or lifestyle choices. Some may be preventable. The risk of having an autistic child is a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. Could it be preventable?   


Autism Spectrum Disorder-More Questions Than Answers

ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) seems to be talked about more and more. Is it just me? Is autism really coming out of nowhere to affect more and more children? If so, why? Is there anything we can do to stop this? Or is it just more diagnosed because doctors are starting to understand it better? Perhaps it is being over-diagnosed? (Let me know what you think in the comments!)

Autism Facts:

-Autism has no known cure
-Autism is found in 1 out of 65 children
-Autism costs a family $60,000/year on average (yikes..)
-Autism is 5 times more likely to occur in boys than girls

The Research

Surprisingly, mothers who are obese during pregnancy are twice as likely to have an autistic child as compared to a mother at a healthy weight. The autism risk quadruples(?!) when women are both obese and diabetic. Recently, a longitudinal study was published at Boston Medical Center of 2,734 mother-child pairs between 1998 and 2014. 102 of the children received an ASD diagnosis, they were also more likely to be born pre-term, male, and at a low birth weight. The mothers were likely to be older, obese, and have diabetes (diagnosed before or during pregnancy.)



Researchers project that because obesity and diabetes come with increased inflammation and irregular levels of nutrients and hormones- it may add the risk. Obesity and diabetes also cause stress on the body and fetus. A brain developing in these conditions can be affected. Differences in an autistic and non-autistic brain can be detected as early as the 2nd trimester.    


Final Thoughts

In order to prevent autism, we need to consider the pregnancy and pre-pregnancy health of the mother. This study is concerning because obesity is on the rise. Diabetes is on the rise. (Perhaps this is why autism is also on the rise?) How can we end the obesity epidemic? How can we end preventable diabetes? Could we cure autism? Well, we can’t force a healthy lifestyle on others. People have choices on how to treat their own bodies. However, we can teach our children and others in our realm of influence the joy of healthy eating, educate ourselves in optimal living, and strive to live healthy and happy lives. These things can prevent obesity and diabetes that occur due to poor health choices and could possibly eradicate the rise of autism.   


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  • Shiva, that’s a great perspective! Totally agree!

    -Crystal from Lakanto

  • Very interesting. I have long suspected that a lot of childhood issues come from unhealthy parents procreating. I definitely want to ensure my spouse and I are at our best before we have kids. So many unknowns but it makes sense that damaged sperm, eggs, and hosting bodies would impact the kids in so many various ways.

    Shiva D
  • Claire, good point. Thank you for your comment!

    -Crystal from Lakanto

  • C. Atwood, I think that is a valid point. There have been many that claim to cure autism and who am I to say that’s not so! I think fostering discussion in this way will encourage even more discussion and research so that one day, hopefully we can eradicate autism everywhere. It definitely has to start somewhere. Thank you so much for your comment!

    -Crystal from Lakanto

  • Interesting correlation but definitely not root causality. I believe gut health has to do with weight and diabetes then autism. My gut was a mess due to RX drugs, high carb SAD diet, and we have a Autism spectrum kid.


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